Though I’m home, settled in and having had a day to rest, I’m catching up on my travels from last week. I certainly had a varied trip encompassing lots of water places – driving along Great Lakes, sitting by the ocean, crossing rivers on big bridges. For some reason, I was drawn to water.
Water was a part of last week in the form of rain for the first few days I was in New Hampshire, and I chose to stay in and rest and didn’t venture out (except for shoe shopping) until Wednesday. That was only up the road to Manchester, New Hampshire to the
Currier Museum of Art. I’d been there a couple of years ago and really enjoyed the museum and its collection. It was a good afternoon to take my time looking at the art, sitting often, having a snack in the cafe, taking another slow day.
That slow day turned out to be a resting up for Thursday. Karla took the day off, and we had a beautifully bright, clear, temperate day for nosing around the seacoast area. I had read that just west of Portsmouth, New Hampshire was (perhaps) the oldest church in continuous use in the United States. Karla and I grew up going to the oldest church in continuous use in Georgia, Jerusalem Lutheran Church, so we find historic (and still used-for-worship) churches interesting. Newington is a quaint New England village, historic and off the beaten path. We were delighted to find the church open. When we looked around inside, Karla noticed a balcony with a bell rope, so she climbed the stairs to ring the bell. Seckingers have been the bell ringers at our home church for generations. I didn’t get the bell-ringing gift, but Karla did. She rings the bells at Jerusalem just as they’re “supposed” to be rung. Ding ding, ding ding, ding ding. . . . The bell in Newington has a mellower ring, and there’s only one bell, but she made it sound good. And when we came out of the door, a hawk was circling overhead. We both thought it was Daddy’s spirit, drawn by the bell. He was the bell ringer at Jerusalem for years and years, and soon after he died, when I was visiting his grave at the cemetery near the church, a hawk circled over me for a long time. So I associate hawks with him. Karla and I were both touched with the hawk’s appearance and felt Daddy was saying “hello” and “nicely-done, Karla.”
It was lunch time, so we headed into Portsmouth. I wanted to have a lobster roll while I was in New England, and Karla had a restaurant in mind. When we were in Portsmouth a couple of years ago, we parked in the parking lot of a small restaurant after their hours, and the owner ran us off. Karla said she’d read since then that it was a good lunch spot, so we went back, this time parking “legally” since we were customers. Geno’s Chowder and Sandwich Shop is a locally-owned restaurant on the back channel of the Piscataqua River. We sat on the deck, glad to be outside but grateful for the plastic protecting us from the wind. We split lobster and crab rolls and then slices of strawberry-rhubarb and blueberry pie, enjoying freshly-made food in a lovely setting.
Just down from Geno’s is the Point of Graves Burial Ground, so we stopped there to look at the interesting old gravestones. I remember being fascinated with the skulls with wings and crossbones on old tombstones the first time I saw some in New England 20 years ago. This burial ground has stones by a variety of carvers. I’ll include a couple more at the bottom of the post so you can see the different styles. We had a beautiful day to poke around the cemetery and take some photos of the gravestones.
From Portsmouth, I wanted to take a drive along the coast, so Karla figured out how to get us over the bridge, and then we took right turns to get us close to the ocean. We crossed into Maine and ended up driving down to the ocean at York Harbor. Karla took a walk on a path along the shore, and I rested on a bench overlooking the beach. I don’t think the day could have been more perfect. The temperature was in the 60s, the sky was crisp and clear. I was awash in gratitude as I sat on that bench in a beautiful setting with my sister on my first trip after completing cancer treatments. And the day was about to get even more perfect.
We got back in the car and continued northward. I knew we were in York, but I had forgotten that one of the most-recognized lighthouses was there. We drove into the town, and as I looked further up the beach, there was the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light. It was the time of day for the magical angle of light that makes everything more beautiful. And we were actually there, looking at the Atlantic and the Nubble Light during the magic hour. It was a lovely end to a wonderful outing that included lots of water, beautiful weather and settings, good food, interesting places full of history, and most meaningful, time with my sister. The perfect day.