If you live in the wintry Northeast of the United States, you know that many January activities involve the cold, snow or inside venues. I compiled a little to do list for you New Englanders to try this month. If you live elsewhere ask yourself if any of these ideas would work for you.
Go sledding with your family and friends! We have a long Tobaggon that I won at work many years ago. It can hold two or three bodies and goes like the wind!
Host a Saturday lunch for friends. I’m hosting my two friends Laurie and Michelle in a couple of weeks. Serve hot or cold sandwiches or homemade soup. Have tea, coffee or hot beverages available.
Organize desk drawers or cluttered countertops. It’s easier now while the weather is colder outside. Once spring comes, you’re going to want to be outside instead.
Organize your printed photographs or digital thumbprints. Label folders such as Christmas 2018 or Summer 2018.
Take an afternoon hike in the woods. Tom and I hiked about a mile to check on his game camera and feed the local deer. It was simply magical with snow falling while we were in the midst of the stand of trees. Animal tracks spiraled throughout the woods like a crazy maze.
Build a cozy fire in the stove or fireplace and cuddle up nearby. Watch a good movie, Mr. Church on Netflix. It’s a heartwarming story of a mother and daughter who have a cook who becomes part of the family. Read a good book! Right now I’m reading The Divide by Nicholas Evans about a family facing a tragic loss of their daughter and the search to find out what happened to her.
I hope you all enjoy the month of January and everything that comes with it!
It’s my autumn wish to completely express my adoration of my home state, New Hampshire. Being born within its boundaries and breathing it’s fresh country air 49 years entitles me to personal experience. It’s the many years of waking up to majestic mountains and living my life with a scenic background, enough that I should pinch myself that I’m this blessed!
Many years ago Autumn stole my heart with its vibrant gold and red elegance.
Sunday afternoon Tom and I cruised the infamous Kangamangus Highway with twists and turns through the White Mountain forest. As we began our journey we were fortunate enough to trail a parade of Corvettes. Even though the day was raw and chilly in the 40’s with a whipping wind, the pleasant sun brought some heat to our enclosed car.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit our stunning state, make sure to wander up north and take a ride on the highway. Every few miles are lookouts, picnic areas, hikes and some campgrounds to vacation in a rustic scene.
Here we stopped to stretch our legs and absorb the glory of Autumn. The C.L. Graham Wangan Grounds lookout is in Lincoln. I’ve never seen as many cars and tourists crowding the area, but even so we found our tiny space to enjoy.
If scenic mountains could be royalty their elegance would sparkle within the court. Their colorful leaves resemble precious jewels, even as the glow wanes. The monumental scenery takes people’s breath away as they absorb it’s unbelievable majesty.
I’m thankful for the quality time Tom and I spent on the road. We followed the Kangamangus for a few hours towards Conway, NH. Then we stopped at a rest area bordering a brook and ate packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.To wrap up the day, we cruised home slowly with no expectations. We had heard foliage was at a peak a week ago but even so, the colors popped here and there. It’s these Autumn days that fill my bucket overflowing!
Mysterious footprints mazed around the sandy beach,
each treading a unique and personal story.
Sea gulls dotted the landscape, some squawking with a deep seated
desire for fish.
Others repeatedly circled beach sun bathers,
searching and snoopin’ for snacks,
any that would curb their cravings.
Perhaps they would stumble upon kernels of popcorn from a plastic snack bag or a
snippet of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from a busy little
As the sun stood high in the sky and
afternoon prepared it’s reign,
the resting couple from higher elevations of NH
dug their toes in the smooth warm sand.
The male peered in his trusty binocs
at the wide world of sea before him
and skimmed a hunter’s magazine.
The lady breathed the salty air and listened to the waves
soothing her mind.
She read a book quietly
until a nosy and mischievious sea gull
sprung to action!
Sassy Sam snuck
between the metal chairs in a covert operation,
while other sea gull mates stood by to inspect
With a snap of his beak, he pulled a chip bag
from the beach bag!
The lounging lady followed him
and hung out until he was done browsing
in the sack.
Minutes after Sassy Sam’s persistence shined,
as he tugged with full force on the lady’s towel.
Never underestimate the strength of a hungry
A few weekends ago Tom and I ventured down the route 93 into Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It was a Friday late afternoon and cars were hustling everywhere, possibly from commutes from work or other vacationers seeking peace on weeks end. Once we pass the majestic metal bridge into Kittery, Maine, we’re home free. It’s about a half hour on a good day and maybe 40 minutes other days up route 1 into York and then Ogunquit, Maine.
We ate delicious seafood meals and stayed in a little quaint motel called Towne Lyne Motel. There we were fortunate enough to have a private cozy porch off our room, where we watched the river and had little Dixie cups of berry wine.
It was heaven exploring the infamous Marginal Way, starting at the Perkins Cove. We parked there and followed the trail above the craggy cliffs and watched breaking waves crashing against the rocks with a vigor that’s unmatched. While walking I greeted most walkers and even talked with a few including a nice couple from Chicago. We reveled in unison of the majestic beauty there and soaked in the sunny day with all our might.
It was a glorious and relaxing weekend away for us! If you haven’t visited Ogunquit, Maine, check it out! There are quaint antique and unique shops, great restaurants and many accomodations for your needs.
It was a beautiful April day in Homosassa, Florida. The wind whipped more than usual, while the sun shined as it only can there. At the Homosassa Riverside Resort, on the Homosassa River, there’s a dock and a few boats alongside it. Imagine a pelican flying by and a heron hunting on the edge of the dock. Silent and still, it intently gazed at the water for its next meal.
Fifty yards away sits a diminutive island dressed up with a lighthouse and tree house structure built up high from the water. This just isn’t any island, for five spider monkeys inhabit it. Sassy, Ebony, Emily, Eve and Ralph entertain visitors, the show monkeys can only give. These primates swing and climb and bask in the sun. Sometimes they will approach the edge of water but don’t proceed because they don’t like water. Supposedly they scare any approaching alligators by throwing rocks in the water and seek the higher ground, the house. ( credit to abcactionews.com from Tampa Bay)
The Resort’s owners are the monkey’s caretakers, who feed them and take care of them. When hurricanes approach they keep a close eye on the monkeys and have an evacuation plan if needed. ( credit to abcactionews.com) I had to mention this because this worrying thought came to my mind and it immediately made me feel better that they were monitored and protected.
Tom’s mom, his sister Pam and husband Jim,his other sister Mary and her husband Joe, and Tom and I ate a nice lunch together at the Resort’s restaurant. Many of us enjoyed the fried Grouper fish sandwich while watching the monkey theatrics across the way. Good company and food brought us together, something we all don’t do often. The only sibling missing was Tom’s sister Bev and her husband Chris.
The monkeys were amusing as I watched closely. One laid out in the sun, stretched long while another sat up in the house. Two hung out together and it looked like one was being a mother hen and was picking off something off the other. I’ve read somewhere before that they have a tendency to groom each other, so that was interesting to watch.
We were planning on going on a boat ride but the captain called in sick. We went to plan B and enjoyed our lunch and it all was wonderful. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and in that case, I use my co- worker Laura’s thinking, plan B. If the first plan doesn’t work out, then no big deal, switch to an alternative option and if that doesn’t work, there’s plan C. Life has disappointments all the time and it’s up to us cope with it and make special moments anyway. ❤
Then it was time for goodbyes and hugs to Mary and Joe. It was the second leg of our journey…over to Central Florida in Lake Wales. Jim drove us all back to the house, about a two hour ride. Along the journey we were still amazed to see palm trees and orange groves. What we didn’t find were mountains like in New Hampshire. It was refreshing to spy different scenery!
Upon arriving, we toured Pam, Jim and Theo’s house. It’s tucked in a community called Tower Lakes with homes weaved around the park. The park has a few ponds, a community pool and hot tub, and walking road and bridge. Theo told us that an alligator was in the pond but when he gets big, they will get someone to take him out. Yikes!
Their home is lovely decorated and with a Florida and seaside theme. It was homey and comfortable and so nice to see it after a few years.We slept in their guest room, opening from the living room through French doors. They have a futon serving as a sofa and a guest bed.
The next morning after Tom shot pool with Jim and his friends, we visited Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, in Polk County. This is a free state park open to the public. Paths lead by the lake, tropical forests and by swampy areas. Words are hard to do this place true justice, but I’ll try to describe it the best that I can. Tom’s wonderful photos may paint an accurate picture and can hopefully bring you right there and share our beautiful experience.
Once we got down the trail a bit it all started happening! Everywhere we looked, there were alligators and many times they were a few feet from the trail, lying on the bank. Hundreds were in the lake that day, heads out of the water swimming slowly. It definitely was the most alligators that Tom and I’ve seen and the rest of the crew too probably. We went on April 25th close to alligator mating season and that may be why we saw many of them!
Tropical birds were everywhere, as well as blue herons hunting their prey in the swampy water. A flock of pure white birds were spotted in the distance with a pink flamingo in the mix. An osprey busily dove into the lake for a catch and we spotted a few huge osprey nests on the trail.
What amazed us all was how mesmerized Tom was. Jim was very kind to lend Tom his digital camera with a zoom and let him try it out for the day. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my husband that infatuated and inspired. As he walked, he slowed and snapped photos with a burning passion, probably the same deep feeling that I have when I write.
We were all happy for such a special walk ( one that was almost three miles) and the natural wonders that we were treated to, but especially for Tom’s amazement and wonder. At times I didn’t talk but walked and gazed at the Florida wildlife and soaked in my husband’s happiness like a sponge. When your spouse has these moments, you feel good about it and ultimately happy for him. I enjoyed it as well for the reserve had more birds, gators and turtles than I’d ever seen. I have to admit that I ran and jumped when I felt threatened by the gators. There’s nothing holding them back from crossing the trail so I felt excited but a little scared too.
Towards the end of our adventure, we all decided that we would stop and rest on benches by the water. No sooner had we sat down then we spotted a big alligator in the water a few feet away! At first I wasn’t worried but suddenly the big guy slithered out onto the grassy bank next to another bench. Tom wanted to get a good picture and boy, did he! He, Jim, and his mom hung out just a few feet away with a group of spectators, while Pam and I hit the high road! I’m not embarrassed to inform you that fear made me run, I love my limbs and didn’t feel like giving any up that day! It all ended okay after a few minutes of worry and excitement. After turning down our trail a bit and shocking everyone, this monster sized gator decided to retire in the water across the way and then the show was over.
That was the closest we’ve ever been to these amazing creatures and that’s enough for me! I’ll enjoy the pictures and remember my racing heart and cries for Tom as part of my vacation memories! Ha! We all enjoyed a lovely seafood dinner at The Port after we went to Circle B. Thank you, Theo for treating us to that!
If you happen to be in the Lakeland area, look up the Circle B Bar Reserve, it’s an outstanding natural habitat of wildlife to see and snap photos of!
The very next day it was already time to bid our goodbyes with hugs and a few choked up tears. Airports are really sad for me for some reason. Jim took this photo of Tom, Pam, Theo and I just before we checked in at Orlando International Airport. It was a great couple of days and we want to thank all three for making us feel welcome and for such a nice visit!
When my husband and I go for country rides on back roads, I always notice the lone trees. Usually the tree stands erect at the top of a hill, like a honorable man who has achieved so much and conquered his mountain of challenges. It’s perfectly tall and stretches its crooked branches like old wrinkly fingers, embracing the world.
There’s something majestic and spiritual about a lone tree.I feel quiet and humbled upon its sight and I always long to hike up to it to take in all it’s wonder. It’s beauty touches my heart and I feel a spiritual connection. Whenever I see an extraordinary lone tree, an emblem or picture, I wonder why it touches me so.It’s majesty is unexplainable! All I know is that I feel connected to it, it’s splendor and roots that dig deep in the ground.
The lone tree looks stately and pristine, resembling a proud grandfather overlooking his family from a distance. It proudly stands for strength and resilience…that tree, in its solitary state, has grown upward and out. Even though it’s all alone without a stand to thrive in with, it flourishes on its own accord. What a beauty it is!
Will you look at your neighborhood tree the same again? Do you notice the alone trees that you encounter?
My husband and I were on a carefree Saturday afternoon drive on local back roads, looking for the perfect photo opportunity. Recently I’ve penned a post about trees, all alone in their environment and what they remind me of and how striking they are to me. ( to be posted soon) For a few days now I have been on a mini quest for promising photographs of these trees, with no avail. Although our search was a dead end, we were in a peaceful and quiet daze.
On a back road in a nearby quaint village , Tom spied a snowy laced road that’s not maintained in the winter. His recollection was that he had hiked up there years ago and that an older woman lived up there in the summer months.
It was a cloudy yet mild day, the kind of day that beckons you to enjoy nature’s offering. We decided that a simple walk was what we truly needed. It would be a chance to stretch and breathe in silence and nature. We slogged in a scattered trail of footprints in the snow and proceeded to climb the slope. The spindly branches framed the road as the snow tread ground resembled a glittery web of white. Tom discovered deer tracks cast in the white powder and we followed their trail with our observant eyes. Dog tracks appeared as well, an indication that neighbors walked their furry friends a time or two.
This is the road adjoining the slope that’s not maintained. Such beauty and I’m so grateful to live nearby!
There’s something humbling about a simple dirt road. It’s a subtle symphony of natural peace, where you can explore by foot or wheels. The road paves the way for personal thoughts of a tranquil nature. Solutions can be born here and problems fade away to dust. An anxious heartbeat slows to comfort as this world is calming and medicinal.
Upon walking back down the hill, an older man appeared. For a minute I wondered if it was his property or if he would ask us to leave. Coming closer to him, an immediate kindness alleviated my fears. He asked us if we had walked to the cabin. “ No, We just went halfway up, but maybe we can check it out when spring arrives,” I responded. ( It was a little slippery and I didn’t want to fall and make my back worse.)
The man told us that he lived just a bit down the road and liked to hike up there. He had a recent foot injury, so we told him to be careful. Walking away, he favored that foot but was going to make the best of it. We wished him well and I thought how fortunate that God had placed him in our path that day!
On a Sunday afternoon in March my husband and I trekked peacefully in the woods. I confess this is the earliest I’ve ever hiked before, usually I do this in May or June. But why not? Temperatures hovered around 40 degrees and the sun filtered pleasantly through the trees. The warmth and chance to explore was calling us!
A path resembling early spring lead us through woods trudged by fellow hikers.Their mysterious footprints danced along the trail, as if to say, this is a place of sheer joy.
This local trail is called the Scotland Brook Wildlife Sanctuary, 102 acres of vast land including northern hardwood forest, wet lands and a fir tree reserve.The usual path we go on was reverted due to fallen trees and various overgrown brush on the trail. Upon reading the sign, you are welcomed to walk a few feet forward down the road and it leads back to the trail.
Crunching snow on the trail….
and stepping over pockets of ice and leaves,
we noticed little bridges every few feet. Cedar logs positioned nicely with timbers on them and cleverly installed chicken wire, which really is a great ice deterrent and provides traction this time of year.
We gawked at everything and anything, as we treaded in awe and wonder of nature’s glory. Majestic trees towered above us and along the path a flat boulder appealed to my inner child. If there hadn’t been patches of snow and ice, I would’ve hopped on it and sat down.
Many animal tracks led the way, accompanying men’s footprints, reminding us that we weren’t alone,a patent reminder of all that share the woods. Coyote,foxes, snowshoe hares, and deer all inhabit this sanctuary and we are honored to be a part of it.The woods came alive with movement all around. Red squirrels skittered about, little acrobats swinging from branch to branch. Sudden movements fluttered from the tree, partridges spooked by our presence.
Evidence of a Snowshoe Hare Possibly a coyote or fox
A kaleidoscope of brown and gray untamed branches reached here and there, in our view of a magnificent palette of blue. A deep rich blue resembled the sea, as billowy clouds hovered in the mix.
After a few hours hiking and absorbing the tranquility, we both decided that it was medicine and well needed. Cabin fever had set in and it was time to say hello to fresh air, blue sky, and welcome spring!
Walking in the woods puts life in a different perspective, that we are all part of the earth and its majesties. It reminded me that modern technology doesn’t really refresh my soul and that’s why I needed this visit.