4 Shore Things: November 22 – December 5

Sip N Shop

The Hampton Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Sip N Shop event on Sunday, Dec. 2, from 2:45 to 6 p.m. Board a passenger van at CR’s Restaurant and visit Smoky Quartz, Tall Ship, Wiggly Bridge and CR’s. The cost is $50 per person and includes the tour, tastings and an appetizer or dessert at CR’s. Ticket sales end Nov. 25; email colleen@hamptonchamber.com to reserve your tickets.

Historical account

The New Hampshire Theatre Project presents Jaclyn Backhaus’ Men on Boats now through Dec. 2, with showtimes on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., at the West End Studio Theater (959 Islington St., Portsmouth). Men on Boats tells the tale of John Wesley Powell’s famous 1869 expedition down the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon. It is historically accurate, even using direct quotes from Powell’s lyrical journal descriptions, but the twist is that all of the men in Powell’s crew are portrayed by female actors. Tickets cost $30 for adults and $26 for students and seniors. Visit nhtheatreproject.org or call 431-6644. Courtesy photo.

Mixed media and paper cuttings

“Rock/Paper/Scissors,” an exhibition featuring the work of Juliet Karelsen and Dylan Metrano, will be on display at 3S Artspace (319 Vaughan St., Portsmouth) Nov. 23 through Dec. 30, with an opening reception on Friday, Nov. 30, from 5 to 8 p.m. Karelsen’s work includes a miniature 3D environment called “Universal Forest” which incorporates painting, embroidery, fantasy and science. She was exclusively a painter until a couple years ago, when she made the shift to mixed media. Metrano’s work includes layered paper cuttings depicting animals, the Maine landscape and portraits. He is especially drawn to birds. Visit 3sarts.org or call 766-3330. Courtesy image.

Culinary expeditions

Longtime television chef and author Mary Ann Esposito has made more than 50 trips to Italy, traveling across all 20 regions of the country. Now, Esposito is back in the Granite State to tell the story of her culinary expeditions through a new combination memoir and cookbook.

Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy, Esposito’s 13th book, took her more two years to write. The University of New Hampshire graduate will be holding a Q&A session Saturday, Dec. 1, from noon to 2 p.m. at Water Street Bookstore, 125 Water St., Exeter. Visit waterstreetbooks.com or call 778-9731.

Andrew’s Adventere: Wagon Hill Farm

 

Where I went: Durham’s Wagon Hill Farm at 156 Piscataqua Road.

What it is: Wagon Hill Farm is 139 acres of open, rolling hilled land owned by the Town of Durham that is free and open to the public for year-round recreation from dawn to dusk. With the recognizable and signature wooden wagon perched atop the peak of the park’s tallest hill overlooking Route 4, the farm has become a landmark in the Seacoast for its historical and recreational significance. The farm is now used recreationally and is home to many hiking trails, kayaking, dog-walking, sledding, snowshoeing and more.

What I did: When I was a child, my family would take trips to Maine to spend the day in York and I remember looking out the window along Route 4 as my parents pointed out the wagon atop the hill. Years ago my sister gave my father a painting that she made of what we always called “the wagon in Durham.” For as much as the sight of the wagon on the hill has been imprinted in my mind over the years, I have never had the opportunity to spend the day adventuring around the land on which it is representing. It has always been on my bucket list and I figured that now was as good a time as any to explore the protected land.

I pulled up the gravel hill and parked my car in the small parking lot off to the side of the wagon before making my way over to the landmark itself. The wagon is nothing more than just that, a wagon, although it is more about what the wagon represents that makes it so significant, in my mind. The historic wagon seems to encapsulate the overall mission of the farm; it radiates and projects the ideals of preservation, conservation, history and fun.

Continuing along the trail past the wagon, I was genuinely struck at the beauty of the land. The perch provides the perfect view of the back of the farm that you can’t see from Route 4 because it’s hidden by the hill. The rolling hills of freshly mowed farmland were wide and open and interrupted only by the treeline connecting the shoreline of the Great Bay to the farm.

The trail ran off to the side of the park and down toward the water before turning to circle just before the treeline that stood guarding the water. I ventured down the small side trail leading to the beach before finding myself shin-deep in mud along the shoreline from the recent rains and morning frost. Undeterred, I continued onto the beach to admire the view of the inlet. Heading back to the main trail, and making sure to avoid the wet ground, I continued my trek along the main trail of the farm.

I followed the main trail along the tree and shoreline over a bridge across a small stream feeding into the bay before making my way to the farm’s beach. There, families were running up and down the grassy picnic area behind the water, and a father and son were skipping rocks and searching for crabs along the beach. With the sun coming out and warming the previously freezing air, I headed back to my car, finishing the main loop back to the top of the hill toward the parking lot. Along the path to complete my journey, I passed a community garden as well as the old farmhouse and other families enjoying the beautiful weather and breathtaking scenery.

With so much to do at Wagon Hill Farm, I knew going into the adventure that there was no way that I was going to be able to do it all in one day, so I settled for circling the main loop around the farm. Looking back, there is so much that I have yet to do. From wandering the smaller trails between and around the property to walking my dog, as well as coming back in the winter for snowshoeing and sledding, there is much left to be done at Wagon Hill Farm.

Who else would enjoy this: Over the years, Wagon Hill Farm has become the go-to spot for winter sledding. With hills as far as the eye can see and wide open spaces, the park is the perfect location to visit in the winter. But it is far more than a good place to spend a winter’s day. The incredible views and preserved lands that act as home to many rare and endangered wildlife throughout the state is the perfect place to hike with family, friends or dogs or by yourself. It is also a nice place to swim, boat and walk amongst apple orchards during the fall, and the trails provide plenty of variety. Some trails cut through the woods, while others are pressed grass, and some are graveled to allow for easy access to those who might have a hard time navigating up and down potentially wet or slippery hills. There are bird-, butterfly- and general nature-watching options for those looking to sit and admire the local wildlife, and the landscapes offer plenty for aspiring artists to brush onto canvas. At the end of the day, my photos do not do Wagon Hill Farm justice in trying to display the beauty of this preserved land, and I would highly suggest taking the time to see for yourself why it is that Wagon Hill Farm has become a landmark along the Seacoast.

 

–Andrew Clay

Window Into Art: Seascape Creations owner gives lessons in Salisbury

Waves crashing into snow-covered beaches and the brisk chill sweeping in from the Atlantic Ocean provide the perfect backdrop for the artistic expression of the New England Seacoast. This is what drew Julie Gordon, owner and founder of Seascape Creations, to start giving window art lessons around the coast.

“It’s just a great way to celebrate living by the shore and that’s what makes it unique,” she said. “A lot of people have their own collections of sea glass sitting in jars in their homes I wanted a way to better display them. Windows are perfect. The ocean becomes your canvas and it allows you to capture and recreate the beauty and movement of the sea. It’s a way to celebrate living and playing by the sea.”
Gordon will be at The Seaglass Restaurant in Salisbury Monday, Nov. 26, from 7 to 9 p.m. conducting a workshop that will help guests create sea- and holiday-themed 8”x10” seascape windows. Guests are invited to bring their own memorabilia or use the pieces provided to create their own decorative window.

Give your art to a loved one this holiday season or keep it for yourself as a new festive decoration, said Gordon.

“Some people come with the intent of making a gift for someone special. What happens then is that they end up wanting to keep it for themselves, but they do make really nice and unique gifts,” she said. “Some people end up keeping them for themselves and use them as holiday décor, and some tell me that they keep their pieces up year-round just because they just love looking at them.”
Templates will be provided to help spark ideas, but Gordon urges that the real inspiration typically comes from the waves rolling up to the side of the Seashell Restaurant, or the sunset over the Atlantic.

“Seaglass was one of the very first venues we started offering on the list and it’s one of my very favorite places to teach because of the ocean setting — it’s really inspiring,” she said. “It’s just a perfect place for people to relax, take a break and create something beautiful that’s made from nature. It’s such an inspiring atmosphere because you’re surrounded by the ocean.”
The lessons are available for all ages, and Gordon notes that the best work often comes from the youngest children and those who go about their work uninhibitedly.

“You don’t have to be artistic, that’s the nice thing because everything you’re working with is already beautiful,” said Gordon. “There’s no step-by-step complicated directions that you need to follow. We provide guidance and support, but in the end, you’ll be guiding yourself.”
Gordon believes that art is personal in nature, so she is there only to provide assistance when called upon. Gordon wants guests to be as hands-on and independent as possible when creating their pieces.

“It allows people to create what they want to create. They get to create the way that they want to create. In my opinion, that’s how art should be,” she said. “Guests will essentially create their piece from start to finish.”

Gordon says that in the four years of teaching she has never seen a piece that hasn’t come out beautifully.

“We don’t let people leave unless they’re absolutely thrilled with their art,” she said. “People end up being really surprised and thrilled and proud of their creations.”
Following the lesson, guests will be sent home with their window and a simple curing kit to complete and solidify their piece.

“The reason we don’t do it there is because it takes 24 hours to cure where it should be left undisturbed so it’s best if they do it at home,” said Gordon. “That part is super easy to do. We give them the kit, we explain it to them before they leave, there are instructions in the kit and they can call us if they have any questions but we’ve never had anybody have any problems.”

The workshop costs $50 per person and includes $5 off a Seaglass meal ordered while attending the lesson. For more information on Seascape Creation workshops, or to sign up for one of your own, visit seascapecreations.com.

— Andrew Clay

4 Shore Things: November 8-22

Books and baked goods

The Friends of the Lane Memorial Library will be kicking off November with their annual Winter Wonderland Community Craft Fair and Bake Sale on Saturday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All baked goods for the bake sale are homemade, local treats provided by donation from generous community members. It’s also time to stock up on books for cozy winter reading. The book sale is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15, through Saturday, Nov. 17 at the library, located on Academy Avenue in Hampton. This three-day event, which is open to the public, will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday; and 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday. For more information about the Friends or the upcoming book sale, visit lanelibraryfriends.org.

 

Kids can cook

Do you have a budding chef at home? Mini Iron Chef, held Saturday, Nov. 17, 10:15-11:30 a.m. at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover, allows kids to step up to the plate and make their own delicious dish with the help of their adult sous chef! This year’s theme is Food Art – Sculpture Edition – create a beautiful 3D work of art using food! This event is for kids ages 5+, and an accompanying adult. The price per adult/child pair is $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Fee does not include museum admission and no extra adults (due to space constraints). Visit childrens-museum.org to sign up or learn more.

 

Prison talk

The Hampton Falls Free Library hosts local author Katy Kramer on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 6:30 p.m. Katy Kramer is the author of Portsmouth Naval Prison. The Portsmouth Naval Prison, now vacant, sits at the far end of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Seavey Island on the Maine and New Hampshire border. Sometimes referred to as “The Castle” or “The Roc,” the former Portsmouth Naval Prison has long fascinated residents and visitors. Kramer will show many rarely seen photographs, recount the actual history, dispel myths and answer questions. The program is free and open to the public. Visit hamptonfallslibrary.org or call 926-3682.

 

Remember Hampton

This spring, the Tuck Museum opened a Hampton souvenir china exhibit as part of its celebration of Hampton’s 380th anniversary. On Sunday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m., get an overview of the exhibit and discuss the history of Hampton souvenir china. All are invited to attend the free event at the Tuck Museum, 40 Park Avenue, Hampton.

“Currently, more than 130 pieces are on display, showing tourist attractions and town buildings on objects that were used, from holding hatpins and hair to hot chocolate,” museum director Betty Moore said. “We even have a child’s tea set with a Hampton Beach motif.”

Andrew’s Adventure: UNH Hockey

 

Where I went: The Whittemore Center to watch the University of New Hampshire Men’s Hockey team at 128 Main St, Durham

What it is: The University of New Hampshire Men’s Hockey team took on division rival Vermont in the home opener.

What I did: I got a phone call from my friend Aiden asking if I wanted to go with him to a game because he had a couple of tickets to the season opener. Hockey has always been one of the top sports at the University of New Hampshire and I remember my dad taking me to games as a kid. It had been years since I last attended a game, and it has been on my bucket list for this column ever since I took over a couple months back — so, of course, I jumped at the chance to see a game. It did not disappoint.

At the start of the home opener, the Wildcat record stood at 0-2-1, but with a new coach and a young team the expectations are always a little lower for the first couple of games of the season as the team begins to come together. This is just the natural process of sports, and it was very obvious over the first two periods of play. Vermont started the game off strong, netting their first goal with just under seven minutes left in the first period and then again with just seconds remaining before the intermission. The score stood at 0-2 Vermont, and at this point Aiden and I got up to head to the concession stand.

By the start of the second period, things were slowly beginning to come together. Our defense looked solid and refused to allow any Vermont player access to an easy shot on net, but our offense still seemed sluggish aside from a couple of decent shots on the opposing goalie. The biggest issue for both sides seemed to be over-anxiousness, as any time either offensive player crossed the centerline, a frantic shot or inaccurate pass immediately ensued. Chalk that up to early-season jitters. Just as the second period was coming to a close, a stray pass flew up and into the hands of a quick-witted spectator three seats down from us, and with that the second intermission was preceded by the same 0-2 score.

At this point, with the game showing signs of being over before the final period, Aiden and I tried to determine whether we thought it was going to be worth it to stay until the end of the game. With the first pitch of Game 4 of the World Series starting soon, priorities needed to be set. We elected to stay for the first couple of minutes of the third period and have the Red Sox play on my phone so we could check in periodically between plays.

The Wildcats came out from the intermission a completely different team. Prior to this period, we might have had a handful of shots on net, but now we were assaulting it. Eventually our first goal came on a tip-in rebound from a front and center slapshot ricochet. The crowd went wild as we celebrated our first goal almost 4 minutes into the final period, and the ceremonial fish was thrown onto the ice. The score stood 1-2 Vermont. We were skating with newfound speed and adrenaline, but the clock was ticking. A sharp whistle indicated the start of a power play in favor of UNH. This was our chance, and we did not disappoint. Another slapshot ripped across the ice and off the pads of the Vermont goalie, only to be chipped back in to the side of the net by our nearby forward. The game was tied at 2 apiece. The horn sounded and this game was heading to overtime.

With nothing but momentum on our side, an excited buzz filled the arena as the players lined up for their five minutes of sudden-death overtime. Five minutes were on the clock, but we only needed two. One minute and 40 seconds into overtime, the third put-back rebound was tipped between the legs of Vermont’s goalie and the crowd went wild. The comeback was over, and with it, the University of New Hampshire Men’s Hockey team, and their first-year coach Mike Souza, collected their first win of the season, and of his UNH career.

Who else would enjoy this: The University of New Hampshire offers some of the most exciting and top-tier athletics in the state of New Hampshire, with hockey, for years, being one of the finest teams in the nation. Although still adjusting to new leadership in first-year coach Mike Souza, the team shows a lot of promise. Those who enjoy fast-paced, top-level college hockey would enjoy stopping in at “The Whit” for a game, as well as those who are simply looking to support the University of New Hampshire. UNH hockey games are fun for all ages and seem to always offer suspense by ending in dramatic fashion. I would highly recommend stopping in to watch either the men or women’s games as they are both headed toward another successful season.

— Andrew Clay

*Featured photo by Andrew Clay

Towering History: Rye’s Pulpit Rock Tower opens for Veterans Day

 

Touch history this Veterans Day weekend by climbing the historic World War II observation tower Pulpit Rock Tower at 9 Davis Road in Rye, which is open only a couple of times every year. The Friends of Pulpit Rock Tower traditionally open doors to the watchtower on Memorial Day and Veterans Day in honor of the military history surrounding the structure.

Built in 1943 as a part of a series of towers constructed throughout the Seacoast to keep an eye out for approaching enemy ships, Pulpit Rock now stands as one of the last remaining public observation towers from World War II.

“There were 14 towers between Kennebunk, Maine, and Rockport, Massachusetts,” said Patricia Weathersby from the group Friends of Pulpit Rock Tower. “There are just a couple that are left that are under public ownership. Pulpit Rock Tower is actually owned by the State of New Hampshire Fish & Game Department.”

Designed with the main goal of keeping an eye out for approaching enemy ships heading toward the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the tower had a direct phone line to Fort Dearborn, which is at Odiorne Point State Park. Although the tower never spotted any ships, rumors of enemy submarines circling the nearby harbor are prevalent, as well as the rumor that the test run conducted by Fort Dearborn released a shockwave so powerful that it blew out the windows of the nearby Wentworth Hotel, said Weathersby.

The tower will be open to the public on Saturday, Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as a way to introduce the historical significance of the structure to the public who might otherwise not have been aware of its original purpose.

“This allows people to come check out this building that they’ve seen on the coast for years and never really knew what it was,” said Weathersby. “They can learn about its history, and just admire the views. On a clear day the views are amazing. It’s an interesting structure and it allows people to understand its place in history.”

The tour can be taken as a self-guided experience with photos and historical notes located throughout the interior of the structure, or as a guided tour with educated professionals. The first six stories of the tower are dimly lit due to a lack of windows and electricity, and are circled by sets of concrete stairs. The top two levels of the eight-story tower are the observation platforms with views of the ocean and surrounding landscape, but are only accessible by ladder due to the architectural tapering of the building.

“It’s a sturdy ladder, it’s all in place with railings but you climb up through a hatch to those next levels. That’s kind of fun. The kids love that part,” said Weathersby.

As a result of the moderately difficult ascent, only those who are confident in their ability to do so are allowed to climb the tower. There is also a 42-inch minimum height limit to avoid parents dangerously attempting to carry babies to the top observation levels of the tower.

“I would encourage anyone who is interested to come, wear sensible shoes, hope for sun. You can’t carry babies up because you do need your hands, especially on the ladders to climb and you can’t really do so while holding a child. Come with interest and be open to the experience and appreciate the building and the views,” said Weathersby. “It is definitely a better experience if people are able to climb the stairs.”
There is no fee, although donations are accepted and all proceeds go toward the Friends of Pulpit Rock Tower, a nonprofit organization put together just over 10 years ago that is responsible for the renovations and maintenance of the tower.

“We got the tower cleaned up, secured, and have been working to raise money to do restorations to the tower. We had the roof and railings replaced, we had all custom-made windows put in, we did a lot of painting and put in new floors and our last project is to fix the concrete,” said Weathersby. “There are areas that are bald … the severe weathering from the ocean wears away some of the concrete and the rebar is exposed. That project will be starting Nov. 5 and then it is all about maintaining it.”

On a clear day, Weathersby says, the tower provides views of the Isles of Shoals, the Island of Gloucester, Kittery, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The open house will not be held under poor-weather conditions and it is suggested to check the Friends of Pulpit Rock Tower Facebook page to stay up to date on the latest news surrounding the tower.

“It really appeals to a number of different groups. It’s a unique activity on the Seacoast so we do get a fair number of people who want to come and check it out,” said Weathersby.

— Andrew Clay