Spring on a NH lake

It’s been a slow, weird Spring in this part of New Hampshire. The mild Winter gave way to cool and wet April and May and it did not warm up. Even on our lake, south of the White Mountains, we had two snowfalls in April. On May 16 it snowed just north of here, and northern Maine got 6 inches – a record for this late in the season. Now we are getting 80-degree days!

The lakeside woods were not green until a week ago. Many migratory birds passed through in March – various duck species, a pair of bald eagles. Now the summer birds are here: a pair of loons, Canada Geese (the first with chicks), a Great Blue heron, dozens of swallows swooping over the lake surface, and all the usual suspects at and near the bird feeder – blue jays, cardinals, yellow finches, orioles, red-wing blackbirds, many sparrows and a pair of mourning doves.

We have beavers at work this year; some neighbors report trees felled. Last week we called the NH DES Dam Bureau because the water level was a foot above normal, despite a couple of rain-free weeks. They discovered that the beavers had blocked the large culvert beneath the road that crosses the lower end of the lake, and almost no water was crossing the lake dam! Now the water level is almost back to normal, and our docks are no longer submerged –  just in time for Memorial Day Weekend!

Summer weekend people are arriving, and the lake has woken up. Fishing boats, canoes and kayaks have appeared, and this weekend they will be joined by pontoon boats, jet skis and water skiers.

So we rejoice to see the trees finally leafing out, and some nice sunsets appearing. Memorial Day weekend may be the start of summer for some people, but this year for us it’s the welcome start of Spring!


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First Blush

A New Hampshire Journal

Late April, and flowers on the red maples bring a Spring blush to the woods


(In a “normal” winter/spring here, the lake would still be ice-covered until around April 25. This year the ice was out the first week of March)


Last week we hit our winter low temperature, -20 degrees F. This week the temperature reached 50 degrees, puddles appeared in the streets, icicles disappeared from the eaves… could these be signs of Spring? After A Long Cold Winter, it’s hard to imagine that all this snow is going to melt in the next few weeks!

Local snowfall this winter is around 90 inches. This area can get as much snow in March as it does in February, so we are certainly not “done with winter” yet!  But when temperatures have been so low for so long – weeks and weeks of 10-15 degrees below normal – and with most nights still close to zero degrees, it’s amazing how warm a 30-degree day feels! Even a few days of melting is a very welcome sign that the end of winter is near.

DSC_0003DSC_0008 DSC_0007  Indeed a close look at trees and shrubs reveals swelling buds, as the sun rises in the sky and sunlight grows stronger.  If we get the five days above freezing that are forecast for next week, the sap will start rising in the sugar maples and sugaring season will begin, almost a month late this year.

The clocks go forward this weekend, but moving to Eastern Summer Time when the snowpack is almost 3 feet deep seems foolish.  DSC_0009

Nonetheless, extra evening light will be welcome! We have had one decent sunset over the lake recently, the first since last Fall. DSC_0001



Flowers are appearing in the local stores, and Easter is a month away. Surely Spring is just around the corner!


The Lake

A lakeside home offers a remarkable spectrum of views. Light and color change constantly. The lake surface changes from a silver mirror in early morning, reflecting every tree and cloud in profile and color, to dark gray white-capped waves driven by a brisk NW breeze in mid-afternoon. Even after dusk, it’s amazing how a dark-adapted eye can see the profile of the lake’s west bank reflected in a steel-gray again-calm surface.

White Pine, Hemlock, Oak, Red Maple, Birch frame the lake. Button-brush and reeds skirt the water’s edge. Birds abound: sparrows, finches, chickadees, orioles, swallows, red-wing blackbirds, plovers, robins, crows, hawks, mallards, wood ducks, loons, Canada Geese, a Blue Heron… all in a casual day’s view from the deck!

We have loved our first week on the SE shore of a dammed, 60-acre, 1/2 mile-wide, 50ft deep lake in New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley, midway between Laconia and Concord. Pale green and muddy pink clothe the trees on the far shore amid the pines, and red-maple flowers are dropping on our deck. It’s good to be in NH now that Spring has arrived!


Shellcamp Lake to the NE


Shellcamp Lake to the NW