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