The rail to trail path near Lake Wentworth and Wolfboro, NH; photo by Dawn Chandler, Santa Fe artist

The rail trail path near Wolfboro, New Hampshire.

 

I’m in a live free or die state.

No, I don’t mean ideologically (tho’ that, too). I mean physically — in the Live Free or Die State. New Hampshire.

In the years that I’ve been writing this blog, my love for New Mexico is evident: simply survey my paintings and you’ll find no state more frequently depicted than the Land of Enchantment. I’ve made New Mexico my home for some 20+ years; it’s clear I’m infatuated with it.

More recently, I’ve spoken of of my love for Vermont. Indeed, I’ve written so affectionately about The Green Mountain State that some people — knowing I’m from the East — have assumed I’m from Vermont. (I am not. I’m proudly from New Jersey, another of the original colonies that is dear to me).

But I don’t know if I’ve ever written here about my abiding affection for New Hampshire.

Exeter, New Hampshire was my mother’s childhood home. Though born in Belmont, Massachusetts, at the age of 10 she and her family moved to New Hampshire, where my grandfather took a position teaching history at Phillips Exeter Academy. He taught there all the rest of his life, until his retirement in the 1960s, when he and my grandmother simply moved down the road, a short two or three-mile drive from the academy and town center.

The Exeter RIver, as seen early one morning from one of the town bridges, Exeter, New Hampshire; photo by Dawn Chandler, Santa Fe artist.

The Exeter River, New Hampshire, as seen early one August morning from one of the town bridges.

Exeter was where my mother was raised, where she married, and where she and my father — along with her parents — are buried.
Though she lived 42 years of my life in New Jersey, it was New Hampshire that my mother called home.

And it’s a place that I call home, too. A place I’ve been returning to nearly ever year for over half a century. Where I feel safe in my family’s memories. I know that my vision of New Hampshire is through the opaque filter of nostalgia, tinted deeply with rose and warm sepia, and little, if any, shadow. My vision is filled with light and warmth and every visit pulls me back into memories of simpler times; memories — some of which aren’t even mine, but rather are conjured from black-papered albums of faded photographs….

The farm at Bow.
Elders in rocking chairs.
Shucking corn on the back stoop.
Fields and forests where now box stores lie.
Softball and picnics at the Unitarian Church.
Hockey in a make-shift backyard rink.
Pocket knives and corncob pipes.
A rusted can dribbling water onto a whet stone.
Stone walls.
Woodpiles.
Woolens.
Wool rugs.
Aluminum foil Christmas decorations.
Vases of tea roses and snap dragons.
Green beans cooked in cream. Common Crackers with melting pads of butter floating like boats in bowls of fish chowda’. Lawrence Welk. Red Sox. Aromas of baking bread and hermit cookies. Orange pop. Apple sauce and gingerbread. Jigsaw puzzles. Hot attics and damp cellars. Wooden trunks. Lakeside conversations. Creaking stairs and kitchen table card games.
The smell of pine.
The smell of pine.
The smell of pine.
The smell of ocean.

Card games at my aunt's kitchen table at her lake house near Wolfboro, New Hampshire; photo by Dawn Chandler, Santa Fe artist

Three games of solitaire at the kitchen table at my aunt’s New Hampshire lake house. Note my winning game on the left. It was my only win that morning whereas my aunt (above) and cousin (below) won numerous times. I’m pretty sure they cheat. 😉

 

I come to New Hampshire to connect again with my roots, and walk with my mother’s family’s memories of good lives well-lived. To be reminded that all good things eventually come to an end but all bad things, too. And that the hard edge of even the most troubling news is somehow softened with a cup of tea and shared laughter.

Two inviting yard rocking chairs at my aunt's home in Exeter, New Hampshire; photo by Dawn CHandler, Santa Fe artist

 

 

A quiet early morning moment at my aunt's lake home on Lake Wentworth, near Wolfboro, New Hampshire; photo by Dawn Chandler, Santa Fe artist.

 

In my years and years of visiting New Hampshire, this most recent visit is the first time I brought a plein air paint kit. I’m so pleased that in my busy visit I somehow found time to do a bit of painting. Not nearly as many paintings as I would have liked, but a few. I’ll be sharing them here over the next few posts. Come — meet me back here for a painted glimpse into my New Hampshire….

 

August morning paint colors (en plein air) of Exeter, New Hampshire; photo and paints of Dawn Chandler, Santa Fe artist.

 


Links to Dawn Chandler’s posts about her New Hampshire plein air painting trip below

living free and coming home

cool tools of a traveling painter

of painting tidal rivers and tool sheds…..

of sunrise clouds and sunset boats….

of lakeside chairs, vermont gardens, & the contemplation of a new hampshire river….

Thank you for reading


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