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We watched Merchant of Venice last night. I am always throwing culture at my family to see what sticks.

But, surprise, I didn’t realize I had never seen or read MOV either. It was so good!

We girls especially loved the clever, rich and merciful Portia and her maid Nerissa. And Al Pacino was great as Shylock.

(Unfortunately) rated R for some pointless baring of bosoms by a few decorative Venetian prostitutes.

Next in the Netflix queue: Children of Heaven, Shadow Magic and Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.

Marston School wax museum

Monet

A third grade Monet

Alberteinstein

Einstein

History comes to life
By Amy Kane

HAMPTON — Betsy Ross sat perfectly still in a rocking chair with an American flag draped across her lap. Wayne Gretzky was frozen in a classic ice hockey stance, stick in hand. Anne Frank, with a yellow star on her sweater, was posed at a table with her diary open before her.

A special “wax museum” was set up in the Marston School library this past Thursday, as 37 third-graders in costume brought their favorite biographies to life by first holding unusually still.

Snow smitten

Mittens

Column: Small Pond
Hampton Union, Feb. 27

Fighting the winter blues

Driving through Hampton the other morning I saw three small children waiting for the bus, passing the time by knocking each other into snow piles and laughing like imps.

Peering at the snowsuited pranksters through my grimy windshield, I had an epiphany. Or maybe just a remembrance of things past. Winter can be fun! Especially with snow. I had forgotten.

When did I become grumpy about winter?

Back in November I wrote a story about Seasonal Affective Disorder – a fancy name for the winter blues – and realized I’m a classic case. Not to a mentally disabling point, but just enough to think hibernation would be a pretty nice alternative to the polar season.

As the days grow shorter and Canada sends weather our way in frigid waves, I curl up with a good book, or the laptop, by the fireplace, take naps under my favorite Pendleton, growl at people, and eat my way through the cupboards and fridge like Ms. Pac-Man.

Sometimes I take little breaks from napping and eating to apply moisturizer to spontaneously chapping lips and skin.

At some point I realized I could rest my morning cup of coffee on the little roll of fat that shows up when I sit down. I wavered between despair (and the immediate purchase of a gym membership) and thinking it’s a rather convenient little shelf of blubber.

It’s terrible when you, a SAD (and lazy) person, are friends with those active and joyful winter people who have ski racks on the roofs of their cars, snowshoes by their front doors that are not decorative antiques, and some kind of Viking genetic predisposition to thrive in the cold.

Pink cheeked and annoyingly cheerful, they invite you to come along on their frosty adventures – strap sticks on your feet and travel at a high rate of speed down a mountain, over and over.

Sorry but you are too busy. You just bought a box of chocolates and the latest in the historical romance series, “Beguiled By a Scoundrel, Again.”

I wasn’t always so SAD. Once there was happiness in winter. In childhood, when I was the one who would come in for hot chocolate, instead of the one stirring the hot chocolate.

A good dumping of snow meant that, instead of schoolwork, we would play. Sledding. Sculpting and adorning snowmen and snowwomen. (And then finding the shriveled carrot nose so out of place in the mud and new grass of May.)

Snow fortifications and winter wars. The schadenfreude – a great German word meaning “to take pleasure in the misfortune of others” – of a thrown snowball connecting so satisfyingly and comically with your hapless target.

Making snow angels. Finding that perfect clean white spot, falling backwards and scissoring your arms and legs to leave that angelic impression.

Recently in North Dakota, 8,900 people flopped down on their backs on the state capitol grounds in an attempt to break the snow angel record and take back the Guinness book title snatched away a few years ago by Michigan.

Adults and kids turned out, and even one woman, Pauline Jaeger, celebrating her 99th birthday, who had never made a snow angel before in her life.

“It’s fun,” said Jaeger. “I feel just like a kid.”

Many places with a serious winter have learned how to have a little fun with it.

In Sapporo, Japan, 2 million people attend a Snow Festival to look at giant snow sculptures. There are 25 snow and ice related activities at Montreal’s three-week Fete des Neiges. Everyone comes out to skate when the canals freeze in Ottawa, Canada, and Amsterdam, Holland.

In Bethel, Maine, in 1999, the town came together to build the world’s largest snowman – they named him Angus, King of the Mountain.

Here in the Seacoast, we strip off our winter layers and run screaming into the bitter cold North Atlantic because we’re crazy – I mean, to raise money for charity.

So, is cabin fever necessary? Is there a way to cheer away the winter blues? Maybe the kids have got it right. Go out and play.

Amy Kane is a freelance writer living in North Hampton and a correspondent for the Hampton Union.

Photo Monday

Shelter

Shelter. This morning at Ragged Neck, Rye.

Swansurf

Swans in saltwater, southern Rye.

Ryecottages_1

Summer cottages, Route 1A, Rye.

Picnic

No picnic. Ragged Neck, Rye Harbor State Park.

Swan

Swan in surf.

Winter 2007 photos at portsmouthnh.com.

SeacoastNH.com The swans of winter.

Harborshelter

It is the sea that whitens the roof.
The sea drifts through the winter air.
It is the sea that the north wind makes.
The sea is in the falling snow.
This gloom is the darkness of the sea.

– Wallace Stevens