Weather: not so hot


Gull at North Hampton Beach

Still too cold, dark and wet for this time of year. Showers in the forecast, with a chance of thunderstorms. Slugs, ants, aphids, fruit flies, rot, algae, weeds, mold and mildew.

“That’s it. I’m mowing the lawn anyway,” said Husband.

Rain forces NH group to declare ’clothesline emergency’

CONCORD, N.H. — It’s been so rainy in the Northeast that a New Hampshire-based group advocating clotheslines in place of electric dryers to save energy has declared a “clothesline emergency.”

To deal with the wet weather, Project Laundry List is asking people to use indoor drying racks — unless they’re at risk for a mold problem. If that doesn’t work, the nonprofit group recommends heading to coin-operated laundries, which generally use gas dryers.

The group says this is its first clothesline emergency in its 15-year history.

Also, due to excessive rain fueling the growth of bacteria, you could get Lou Gehrig’s disease from swimming in NH lakes… but don’t worry too much about it says NH DES, because they test the waters frequently and post warnings if necessary.

In Manchester, NH, 2.5 inches of rain fell in an hour last night and storm drains couldn’t keep up.

For early July, Accuweather says: Not Hot.

Cumulonimbus


Rye Beach south of Wallis Sands, last night

Seacoastonline.com: Summer bummer: Gray skies, rain rule forecast into July

“We live next to this ice cube called the North Atlantic.”

Species of cumulonimbus cloud

Boston Globe: Outer Cape takes a hit as erosion worry rises

“In terms of changes on the beach, this is the biggest storm I’ve ever seen,’’ said Carrie Phillips, chief of natural resource management at Cape Cod National Seashore, which stretches from Chatham to Provincetown. “It totally reshaped all of our beaches.’’

In Chatham, austere utopia yields to relentless tide

Mesmerized by ocean’s beauty, fury – and life

Just to watch the ocean when it’s stormy is incredibly humbling – it’s a gigantic, pulsating, living thing, with huge tides precisely programmed by lunar gravity.

Tell me how many beads there are
In a silver chain
Of evening rain,
Unravelled from the tumbling main…
– Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Weather and treasures


More showers today, tomorrow, the next day and Friday. New England weather experts tell us it’s a longwave pattern with a stalled upper-level low south of New England that will eventually sail away to the northeast.

Early July should be warmer than average, with thunderstorms every few days as small cold fronts deliver shots of cooler Canadian air.

Meanwhile, at least one demographic has been happy with this weather. Winds are driving waves onshore. It’s a summer nor’easter.

Temps never climbed out of the low 60’s yesterday. I took the dog for a walk in the rain forest, I mean woods behind North Hampton School. There are ferns in there the size of (green) baby elephants.

I was here near high tide yesterday. There was some splashover, but I’ve seen worse in winter and spring storms in the last few years.

Then I grabbed a coffee at KB’s (formerly JB’s) and drove around spying out the coast, as is my wont.

Me and Thoreau: “For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rainstorms and did my duty faithfully, though I never received payment for it.”

A Hampton Beach beachcomber hit the news today with something she found washed up – a fossilized tooth of a Great White Shark.

Woman donates shark tooth to UNH

“I temporarily had it wrapped around my neck because it was kind of a spiritual thing because it is so old and rare,” she said.

(Diann) Barber said she still walks the beach every day looking for her next find.

“I doubt that I will find anything as cool as the shark tooth, but you never know,” Barber said.

“A lot of people say lightning doesn’t strike twice. Well, I know someone who was struck by lighting twice. So who knows?” she said.

“There is always something to find at Hampton Beach,” Barber said. “Maybe there is another treasure waiting for me.”

Seas of life


Sand Buddha

Accept the rain. Be at one with the crappy weather. You live on the coast of a cold deep northern sea. Get over it, whining mortals.

The ocean is in the air today.


Woolly sand sheep

Find something to occupy yourself. Knitting, for example. Or a walk past the sand sculptures at Hampton Beach. You own a raincoat?

Clean out closets. Read a book.


“Moon Rocker”

Listen to music. Make a new playlist on your iPod. Growl and emote. Dance around the house.

Kick over a lifeguard stand if the wind hasn’t already done it.

Lobster roll at Petey’s yesterday, and a Sam Summer with a lemon wedge

Eat something, you’ll feel better. Seafood! There’s lots of it around here.

Clam or fish chowder is nurturing. Scallops are sweet. Lobster is divine. Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy. (Ben Franklin)


Tank

Visit the Seacoast Science Center, where a small skate smiles at you through the glass and pink anemones wave hello.

Wonder at your fellow creatures so well-adapted to the water and wet.


Lovely bones

Meet a humpback whale.

How like an Angel came I down!
How bright are all things here!
When first among His works I did appear
O how their glory me did crown!
The world resembled His Eternity,
In which my soul did walk;
And every thing that I did see
Did with me talk.

The skies in their magnificence,
The lively, lovely air,
Oh how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair!
The stars did entertain my sense,
And all the works of God, so bright and pure,
So rich and great did seem,
As if they ever must endure
In my esteem.

A native health and innocence
Within my bones did grow,
And while my God did all his Glories show,
I felt a vigour in my sense
That was all Spirit. I within did flow
With seas of life, like wine;
I nothing in the world did know
But ’twas divine.

– from Wonder, by Thomas Traherne

Sweet summer: PYO strawberries in the NH Seacoast

In today’s Seacoast Sunday newspaper…

It’s pick your own strawberries season
Fresh, pick-your-own berries ready

By Amy Kane

Kneel in the dirt. Bow your head. Peer into the tangle of green. Reach for the ripe red berry and pluck it from the vine.

Strawberries are in season. Summer has begun.

“Like day and night,” is how Miriam LeClair of East Kingston describes the taste of a fresh garden strawberry compared to the ones cellophaned in cardboard at the supermarket.

At the moment, it’s a little cheaper to pick your own strawberries than to buy them at the store. But that’s not the point. The folks in the fields are looking for flavor. They don’t mind working for their dessert. And, like the poet, they say, “What is so rare as a day in June?”

Miriam and her daughters, Danielle, 7, and Michelle, 4, visit Monahan Farm just down the road from home a few times each summer to pick fruit for their table. But if they aren’t careful, strawberry season can pass them by.

“It’s just a short time,” said Miriam. “One year we missed it.”

At the tender age of 4, Michelle has mastered the art of finding a perfectly ripe strawberry hidden among the leaves. She holds a large berry in her small hand, confident in its perfection and her own powers of discernment.

But just to be sure, she nibbles it. Then devours it.

She will not say what it tastes like, or how she can tell it is ripe; she only smiles a secret (berry-stained) smile.

Strawberries have been growing at the farm for 45 years now. Natalie Walker is the granddaughter of the first Monahan.

“My grandfather came from Ireland. He sold his produce in Boston because there weren’t enough people here,” said Natalie. “There were no boys, so my father got me helping him.”

Now her grandsons pitch in. Her son, Jeff Walker, and his wife, Christine, operate the farm.

At the stand, Natalie is weighing a cardboard tray heaped with berries. Bring your own container, or buy a tray for 75 cents or a quart container for 20 cents, she explains. Cost of the berries is $2.05 per pound. (Shaw’s and Hannaford are $2.50 per pound.) The pleasure of picking is free.

But the pleasure of picking strawberries ends at Monahan’s in about a week, so don’t wait.

Raspberries will be ripe the first week in July, blueberries the second week, peaches the first week in August, blackberries the third week, and fall raspberries early in September. Corn, tomatoes, beans, carrots and other vegetables are sold at the stand in the summer too, says Natalie.

“When I was in high school, people made fun of you if you were a farmer. Now it’s more prestigious,” she observes.

Farm land is shrinking in the Seacoast, yet the appeal of farming seems to grow — if not the actual hard work of it, day after day, then at least visits to local farms a few times a year to pick berries, buy fresh vegetables, ride a hay wagon through an orchard, select the perfect pumpkin for carving or get lost in a corn maze.

It’s agricultural tourism, a visit to our past. Maybe we’re nostalgic. Maybe we’re looking for something — something we lost.

“A direct relationship with food,” is how Todd Wagner of Applecrest Farm Orchards in Hampton Falls describes the pick-your-own experience.

“At a store you may get a quart of strawberries cheaper, but what you don’t know is where it’s from, when it was picked or by whom,” he says.

Beth Russell of Portsmouth is carrying a large pot of freshly picked strawberries out of the field at Applecrest. She intends to make jam.

It’s cheaper to pick than to buy locally grown berries at the store, she notes, and she likes to support local growers. But she also likes being able to choose each berry, and not get stuck with the half-ripe ones that sometimes lurk at the bottom of a store carton.

Strawberries are healthy, with plenty of vitamin C. Picking also satisfies your recommended daily allowance of sunshine.

“You get your vitamin D out here,” she said.

Larry and Susan Benedict of Portsmouth are on a jam mission with Beth. They have a small garden and could grow their own, but they wouldn’t get this many berries at once.

Karen Gregory of Exeter, is a few rows away, keeping an eye on her kids, Meadow, 4, and Lotus, 1. Meadow is making friends and Lotus is sitting happily in the dirt eating a berry.

Families are a big part of the PYO business, says Todd. “It’s a pure and simple joy to go out in the fields and find huge, big, beautiful berries.”

On weekdays, pickers are asked to check in at the farm market before heading to the fields.
He says, “We should weigh the kids before they go out, we know that.”

Applecrest has four acres of strawberries, with berries ripening daily through about July 4. Blueberries should be turning blue around that time. Peaches from early August through early September, coinciding with the start of apple season.

According to Todd, this is the best crop of strawberries the Wagner family has ever grown. He attributes it to mulching last winter with salt hay, which has no weeds.

“What do you think, Dad? Why are the strawberries so good this year?” he asks.

“Luck,” says his father, Peter. “Also, no late frost. And management — fertilizing, weeding, cultivating.”

The Fourth Annual Strawberry Festival at Applecrest is happening today, June 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be free live music, hayrides, face painting, pick-your-own strawberries and delicacies baked in the farm kitchen.

“It’s everything strawberry under the sun,” Todd promises.

Todd’s wife, Jen, and son, Dieter, 4, are lugging baskets of berries from the field after a picking party with members of Jen’s book club and their kids. Dieter is clutching an absurdly large berry, of the size the family has nicknamed a “dinosaur.”

Todd and Jen worked in the entertainment industry in the San Francisco area and moved here three years ago with their two kids.

“We wanted to experience life close to the land,” she says. “The kids were out picking dessert after dinner last night. And they help with the weeding.”

Is it worth all the work?

“Come out. Stop and smell,” she says. “You will be converted.”

But, hurry: strawberry fields aren’t forever.

pyo strawberries

Applecrest Farm Orchards
133 Exeter Road, Hampton Falls
926-3721
http://www.applecrest.com
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Monahan Farm
2 South Road, East Kingston
642-8186
Hours: Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Blueberry Bay Farm
38 Depot Road, Stratham
580-1612
http://www.blueberrybayfarm.com
Currently open weekends at 9 a.m.; strawberries pick out early; lettuce, beets, herbs and garlic scallions are also ready for picking; open for blueberries on July 4.

Barker’s Farm
216 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham
778-1039
Stand is open; call to check on PYO berries.

Saltbox Farm
321 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham
436-7978
No PYO strawberries, but PYO blueberries and raspberries will be available in early July. Call to check.
For more information on local farms, produce and farmers markets, visit http://www.seacoastgrowers.org.