Category Archives: New England Summer

Rainy Days and Mondays

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. ∼The Carpenters (Song by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols)

Yes, I used to listen to the Carpenters. And I’ll bet now you’ve got this song stuck in your head, too. Sorry about that, but Monday was challenging, Tuesday not much better, and Wednesday it rained all day long, so this song did rather spring to mind.

Once we had dealt with every issue as far as possible yesterday, David suggested we go for a drive and see a bit more of Vermont while we had the chance. Grafton had been recommended to us, and it’s not far from here, but it was too rainy for photos and too early to eat. There was only one thing we could do–head north to Simon Pearce in Quechee, one of our favorite rainy-day places.

Simon Pearce, Quechee, Vermont
Simon Pearce, Quechee, Vermont

Warm fires in the basement (okay raging furnaces, but kind of cozy from a distance) . . .

Simon Pearce, Quechee, Vermont
Simon Pearce, Quechee, Vermont

. . . friendly glassblowers answering unlimited questions . . .

Simon Pearce, Quechee, Vermont
Simon Pearce, Quechee, Vermont

. . . gorgeous artistic housewares (glass, wood, pottery, textiles) in the shop . . .

Some the more free-form glasswork at Simon Pearce
Some of the more free-form glasswork at Simon Pearce

. . . and last but not least, Vermont cheddar soup and other delights in the restaurant. Yum.

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And on the way home . . . a random zebra sighting. I know. What?!?

Vermont Zebra in Field, NOT a Zoo
Zebra in a Vermont field, NOT a zoo

Seriously. How cool is that? I made David turn around and drive back so I could get a photo.

The whole experience was certainly a nice change of pace, but more than that, the peaceful, meandering drive gave me a chance to think about how I deal with frustrations and challenges, especially when it’s only a rainy day. David used to tell the girls when they were growing up, “Choose your attitude.” And I remember how my attitude toward wind changed in France. So although I trust YOUR attitude is beyond reproach, I’m going to close with a favorite Buechner passage about loving rain. Loving rain. Imagine. But honestly, he’s almost got me convinced. (I recommend reading it slowly, like poetry, to feel the resonance. This man knows how to put words together.)

I loved the rain as a child. I loved the sound of it on
the leaves of trees and roofs and window panes and
umbrellas and the feel of it on my face and bare legs. I
loved the hiss of rubber tires on rainy streets and the
flip-flop of windshield wipers. . . . A rainy day was a special day for me in a sense that no other kind of day was—a day when the ordinariness of things was suspended with ragged skies drifting to the color of pearl and dark streets turning to dark rivers of reflected light and even people transformed somehow as the rain drew them closer by giving them something to think about together, to take common shelter from, to complain of and joke about in ways that made them more like friends than it seemed to me they were on ordinary sunny days. 

But more than anything, I think, I loved rain for the power it had to make indoors seem snugger and safer and a place to find refuge in . . . . I loved rain for making home seem home more deeply . . . ∼Frederick Buechner — A Sacred Journey

Anyone have a quote for Mondays?

On the Water

A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable. ~William Wordsworth

The last post was all about noticing the moment we’re in while we’re in it, so here are a few of our recent moments. We’ve been heading back over to Sunapee for the weekends, since it’s not much more than an hour on beautiful winding country roads. So picture us here:

Sommerro
Sommerro on Lake Sunapee

Last weekend, while cruising around Herrick Cove, we saw this guy . . .

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. . . who very delicately stepped back behind this boathouse . . .

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. . . apparently to avoid the paparazzi (me), and peeked out at us through the back door. Excusez-moi!

You may be noticing that my favorite Sunapee weekends include being on the water. This past Saturday morning, David and I took the boat out before breakfast to catch a shot of Brittany’s favorite picturesque boathouse while the sun was still on it . . .

Old Wood Boathouse Enhanced. . . and discovered that we really need to institute a new Sunapee tradition: breakfast cruises. It was glassy calm, only occasionally rocking us a bit when the early water skiers went by, and even then with a mesmerizing undulation, the surface of the water like molten silver, the sun warm and easy. Paradise. We puttered home as slowly as possible, and only headed back when we did because David was missing his coffee.

I’m not alone. Yesterday was “Love Your Lake Day” on Lake Sunapee, including the Antique Boat Parade, and all the antique boats gathered here in Gardner Bay to . . .um . . . circle the wagons? . . .  get their ducks in a row? . . . I’m not sure, but they went round and round for a while, not quite close enough for a great shot, but close enough that we could see that some people on Lake Sunapee have some beautiful old Chris-Crafts.

Antique Boat Parade, Lake Sunapee
Antique Boat Parade, Lake Sunapee

And a bit later on Sunday, we had the privilege of witnessing the maiden voyage–post-restoration–of Eb’s old wooden boat:

Eb's Boat LaunchBesides “messing about in boats,” what is it about water? It captivates me in a way few other things do, the changing light and colors, the soothing rhythm of waves and ripples, the peace of mist rising at dawn.

Lake Blues Cloud Bank

I have been overcome by the beauty and richness of our life together, those early mornings setting out, those evenings gleaming with rivers and lakes below us, still holding the last light. ∼Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Sunset on Sunapee Cropped

Wherever you are, I wish for you water.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. ∼Psalm 23

 

The Loop

If you’re willing to brave the deer flies, which are truly, maddeningly persistent, there is a lovely three-ish-mile walk up and down country roads, starting and ending . . . well . . . wherever you choose to start and end, hence the moniker “The Loop.” We start, of course, at the end of the drive, making a sharp left up to a fetching, dim little green path through the woods–the domain of a number of very territorial insects, but oh well. Once past that, it widens into a nice unpaved road which spills out into a quirky little hamlet called Westminster West. It has apparently been here a while:

Yes, it does say, "EST. 1784"
Yes, it does say, “EST. 1784”

If you have time for a slight detour–and of course you do: you’re on a country walk in Vermont–instead of a left at the cemetery, continue straight another thirty yards or so to appreciate this:

Westminster West, Vermont
Westminster West, Vermont

Eagle's Roost Tree CroppedAnd a bit further on . . . well, this:

Yes, someone turned a tree upside down. They’re very artsy here in Vermont. We did not hang around to see the massive eagle (or pterodactyl) that laid these eggs.

It may have escaped your notice that Westminster West is an international crossroads (although Sturgis is not mentioned), but if your GPS fails you, you can consult this:

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Once you’ve got your bearings, make a sharp left, back toward the church and the cemetery and you’ll be rewarded with this sight:

Westminster West, Vermont
Westminster West, Vermont

Seriously. It’s like calendar photos everywhere you look. A few more sights from the loop:

Sheep Barn Enhanced and Cropped

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Mossy Rock Wall Enhanced

Bird Condo Trimmed and Enhanced

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I’ve just started a book by Alice Steinbach called Without Reservations, in which Ms. Steinbach* says of her own year of adventure, she hoped to learn “how to stop rushing from place to place, always looking ahead to the next thing while the moment in front of me slipped away unnoticed.” That’s what we’re trying to do, too, and sometimes I think we’re even succeeding a little bit.

“When I entered my fifties–the Age of Enlightenment, as I came to call it,” she writes, ” . . . I’d knocked around enough to know that, in the end, what adds up to a life is nothing more than the accumulation of small daily moments.” And although I believe there’s also something mysterious and transcendent, and sometimes even holy, that can infuse those moments and make them not really small at all, I agree with her that the moment we’re in is all we really have. Here’s wishing you transcendent and even holy moments, every one of them fully noticed.

*I have a feeling Alice Steinbach will soon be appearing on my quotes page, so keep checking.

Four-Legged Farm Vermont

We’re in Vermont now, at a super-charming, peaceful place called Four-Legged Farm, and it seems like just the kind of place we all need about now. David and I seem to hear daily of new struggles and challenges facing so many of our friends and family, not to mention the world. I hope this post can be for you a tiny respite of serenity and beauty. Know that you are never far from our thoughts and prayers. So imagine yourself here . . .

Four-Legged Farm, Vermont
Four-Legged Farm, Vermont

. . . and I’ll give you a tour:

Four-Legged Farm
Four-Legged Farm: Shawn and Diana’s Part of the House
View from Shawn and Diana's Terrace
View from Shawn and Diana’s Patio
The Loft Bedroom at Four-Legged Farm
Our Bedroom in The Loft at Four-Legged Farm

This place is quirky and artistic in a GOOD way, not like the garage/apartment near Paris.

And the location is about as far from sketchy as you can get. No barred windows and double-bolting needed. Here’s what’s outside:

One of the two-legged at Four-Legged Farm
One of the two-legged at Four-Legged Farm

And this little lady who definitely wanted her picture taken:

One of the four-legged
One of the four-legged at Four-Legged Farm

View out our back patio door. (More on the horses later.)

Diana Schooling Skyler
Diana Schooling Skyler

This place is a tonic for the soul, with beauty everywhere you look.

Four-Legged Farm, Vermont
Four-Legged Farm, Vermont

I love the blending of skill and artistry that goes into a New England stone wall. My dad commented recently that we seem to make friends wherever we go and asked how we do it, and I’ve been pondering the question ever since. We have met some wonderful people, and I wish I had a wise answer, but there’s a mystery to friendship. Maybe it’s a bit like a good dry-stack wall, with labor and art and balance all playing a part, with a need for good raw material and attention to detail, but not perfectionism. I’m afraid I really don’t know. I just know we love meeting new people and hearing their stories, sharing a bottle of wine and a beautiful evening, like we did tonight with Shawn and Diana, our hosts here and our absolutely newest friends. I hope they enjoyed the evening as much as we did.

So peace be with you, friends old and new. You will always have a place in our hearts.