Taking pictures of water

Exeter River in flood

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. – Psalm 69:1-2


Exeter River flowing under the String Bridge, early this afternoon. I wish I could add sound to this photo.

It stopped raining, so we did some rubbernecking.

Looking down

Looking down into troubled waters.

We are the river watchers.

High water

Seacoastonlinecom: Rain spurs regional road closures, evacuations.

The Exeter River was supposed to crest last night.

On location

Photographers on the String Bridge.

String Bridge MAP.

The Exeter River rises in Chester, NH and travels 40 winding, twisting miles to this point. Not far beyond, it becomes the tidal Squamscott River which flows into Great Bay.

Another river

A little further north, the Lamprey River flows through Newmarket before entering Great Bay.

Both rivers have dams and old mills.

Old mill

My husband got a call on his cell phone and I heard him say: “I’m just driving around with Amy taking pictures of water.”

Wikipedia: Newmarket, New Hampshire.

Beginning with the first cotton textile mill in 1823, the Newmarket
Manufacturing Company would dominate the mill
town’s waterfront and economy with seven textile mills harnessing water power at the falls.


Water power.

The Lamprey River was named for John Lamprey. For a while, the town was called Lampreyville. Newmarket was a center of the New England shipping trade with the West Indies.

Bridge over troubled water

More river rubberneckers.

A history of the Lamprey River mills.


Looking upriver.

The Lamprey River rises in Meadow Lake in Northwood and flows 50 miles to tidal Great Bay. Great Bay empties into the Atlantic Ocean via the Piscataqua River.

Fall line

We’ve had record or near-record rainfall in March, and we tend to be a kind of wet place anyway. The Granite State could just as easily be nicknamed the Lots of Lakes and Rivers (and Flooded Basements) State.

Waterfalls and rapids at the “fall line” of rivers throughout New England provided power in the early days of industrialization.

Even earlier, the fall line defined settlement patterns on the East Coast as it usually represented the limits of navigation from the ocean upriver. It was a good location for sawmills and gristmills too, and you couldn’t have a town without them.


Once again, I wish I could add the sound made by the impressive volume of water moving under our feet.

Link to satellite map of Lamprey Mills.

It was good to get out of the house after so much stormy rain on this, the last day of the hardest month. Our little tour made me feel less oppressed by water and more refreshed. The water roar itself was a clean sound that went in at the ear and all through the head.

Water is on, in and over everything now. But it will feed life and the dead season will be over soon.

Seaside spring

Some of the best things in life really are free.

North Hampton Beach, yesterday. Low tide makes the “walking trail” much wider.

Looking south past North Hampton Beach to Plaice Cove.

Yesterday it actually felt like spring.

At the fishhouses, summer seats still empty.

The sun was the great fact of life yesterday and all who had the good fortune to go outside turned like sunflowers to face the great star.

Union Chapel on Willow Avenue, as glimpsed from Ocean Blvd. Open in summer only.

Rye Reflections: Why this chapel exists in this North Hampton location

Union Chapel is a “soft, silvery gray … concealed by green trees and
shrubbery and beautified by stained glass windows, it rises in the midst
of some of New Hampshire’s most attractive estates.”

Old pieces of Mountains, meet cold clear Ocean.

Bass Beach, North Hampton. Where I accidentally found the stars in the stones.

A little higher on the beach, shh, rocks are resting. Later they will be roughed up and tumbled, and slowly made smoother and smaller.

Up hill to a high spot, part of the promontory of Little Boar’s Head.

Man running without a shirt, absorbing vitamin D, signifying unseasonably warm weather.

What if I take a walk almost every day in spring, and what if I find one stone to bring home with me?

This one with a nice smooth weight and three dark even lines is now on my kitchen windowsill.

Google satellite view of area.

The stars in the stones

Want to see something really neat?

The stars in the stones

Click to enlarge, if you want. It may take a moment to notice… the stars.

These are freshly-wet-by-the-ocean pebbles and cobbles. Many appear to be reflecting the sun as a tiny, six-pointed star.

When I got home and downloaded the photos I noticed the stars on the stones.

I went for a walk from North Hampton Beach to Bass Beach this morning. Bass Beach is made up almost entirely of rounded stones that “sing” (or at least slosh and knock together pleasantly) as the water rushes through them.

Sun's path

The gray stone in the middle seems almost to show the sun’s movement through the sky.

Equinox is when the day and night are of equal lengths. Now, for a whole half a year, the sun will be winning and there will be more light than dark, yahoo!

Leaning into spring

Tabletop tulip

Calling all egg-balancers: vernal equinox at 1:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

There is a chicken swap at the Hampton Falls Agway today. In North Hampton, we’re still trying to decide how we feel about chickens and other farm animals. Can we preserve our rural character without roosters? What about piles of manure near property lines?

Old Farmer’s Almanac: 2010 Best Dates for Seeds for Your Location (just add zip code). In these parts, there is a 50% probability of frost free after May 13. But peas and spinach can be planted as early as April 1. (April 14 if you plant by the moon.) Gardening jobs for March. April. Best boots.

I am taking over two old raised beds right out back for the butterflies. After digging out and attempting to kill all weeds by covering with black plastic for a few weeks, I will plant the Bring Home the Butterflies mixture a week or so before average last frost.

It’s easy to convert your garden into a private retreat for native butterflies with this colorful mix of 26 different annuals and perennials to provide for them at each stage of their lifecycle. Nectar-filled flowers attract mature butterflies while host plants provide food for their caterpillar stage. This mix covers an area of approximately 45 square feet.

Includes, lupine, sunflower, borage, calendula, cornflower, milkweed, parsley, aster, crimson clover, coreopsis, cosmos, purple coneflower, sneezeweed(!), sweet william, snapdragon, dill, verbena, black-eyed susan and more.

Come, my little powdery-winged pets! You will not be a nuisance to the neighbors.

Butterflies are self propelled flowers.
– R.H. Heinlein

Sun shines, water recedes, I buy seeds

And on the fourth day, we peeked out of the ark and saw that it was no longer raining and it was good.

Thin hard crust of ice on our slightly overflowing pond yesterday morning. Golden retriever prop added for scale.

This was the Portsmouth Public Library side parking lot on Monday.

The governor visited Exeter yesterday to assess the damage.

“This certainly was a significant storm and caused widespread damage,” pronounced the gov.

FEMA will get involved and maybe there will be money from the feds, he said.

Exeter officials say they will now wait to hear if Lynch declares a state of emergency for the most recent storm. If, and when that happens, they can begin the process of reimbursement for costs like overtime hours of emergency management officials and can also provide information on resident assistance programs.

The sun brought people out. Downtown Exeter was bustling.

I wandered and shopped and talked to everybody. Even taciturn New Hampshirites long for human sociability at the end of winter, and at the end of a lingering nor’easter.

I heard a shop owner talk about a fundraising event other shop owners were organizing for a flood-damaged restaurant.

The raging river in Exeter.

My favorite part of the article about the governor’s visit:

As he talked with officials on Court Street, Lynch watched a family canoe right down the middle of the street. John and Michelle Tyler, who live on a flooded Crawford Avenue, said the boat is their means of transportation right now.

“At 6:30 this morning we canoed right out of our garage. We took our two kids to Court Street to catch the bus so they could go to school,” Michelle said.

That calls for a poem. Take it away, Thomas Lux!…

It’s the Little Towns I Like

It’s the little towns I like
with their little mills making ratchets
and stanchions, elastic web,
spindles, you
name it. I like them
in New England,
America, particularly-providing
bad jobs good enough to live on, to live in
families even: kindergarten,
church suppers, beach umbrellas … The towns
are real, so fragile in their loneliness
a flood could come along
(and floods have) and cut them in two,
in half. There is no mayor,
the town council’s not prepared
for this, three of the four policemen
are stranded on their
roofs … and it doesn’t stop
raining. The mountain
is so thick with water parts of it just slide
down on the heifers—soggy, suicidal—
in the pastures below. It rains, it rains
in these towns and, because
there’s no other way, your father gets in a rowboat
so he can go to work.

Other animals came out of the ark too, including the perfect little donkey who lives behind Churchill’s Home & Garden Center, in Exeter.

I bought seeds for a butterfly wildflower garden. I love the sound of shaking a couple hundred tiny dry seeds around inside a paper package.

Also bought a garden soil testing kit to mail to NH Cooperative Extension. Then we will see how our garden grows.


File this under: Why I Love My Small New Hampshire Town

Editorial in this morning’s Foster’s Daily Democrat:

As members of Congress roll in the political mud over health care and jobs, there was a refreshing reminder here in New Hampshire of the way politics should be.

Due to a tie vote last week in the race for a North Hampton School Board seat, a flip of a coin was used to determine the winner.

Bob Hamilton and Victoria Kilroy had tied for the second seat on the School Board after Henry Marsh placed first in the balloting.

After the flip by school clerk Amy Kane, Kilroy was declared the winner. Then, to his credit, Hamilton gracefully accepted the results — no anger, no angst, no threat of a lawsuit.

How refreshing!

If you are just tuning in, here’s the story: Flipping a coin, but not flippantly.

Beware the tides of March

The Lady, Hampton Beach

Thought balloon: “Here we go again.”

Power went out during the night and thanks to Daylight Stupid Time my daughter had to apply her morning powders and unguents by candlelight. We feel this is outrageous.

Every other morning I have to remind her to turn off the lights in her bedroom and the two or three bathrooms she has used. This morning I had to remind her to “blow out the candles.”

Where Atlantic Avenue meets Ocean Boulevard

Little Boar’s Head, North Hampton.

Do you think I was going to let a little thing like a nor’easter with raging seas and winds gusting to 55 or 60 mph keep me from getting a cup of coffee? Of course not.

I hate to say this but I found a place with power and I bought a large cup of coffee and it was really bad. Is it so much to ask that a place that sells bagels and coffee in the morning make good coffee during a nor’easter? Seriously.

Woodland Road closed

Little River, North Hampton.

The culvert can’t handle the flow
so it’s over the road the river will go.

Hm, maybe I could write a little book of handy weather verses for newcomers.

North Hampton Beach

North Hampton Beach a couple of hours before high tide.

Not going back at high tide.

But somebody will. And they will get stuck driving through a lake-sized puddle of sea water that came over the wall. Or a wave-tossed boulder will roll just so and get stuck under their car. (That actually happened in a big May storm a few years ago, the police told me.)

The Wall

One reason they call it “Ocean Boulevard”?

North Beach at Hampton Beach, still well before high tide.

I’m writing this from the Portsmouth Public Library, an island of civilization in a wind-tossed lake that was once a parking lot.

South end North Beach

Did I mention that it’s not yet high tide?

After I blog I’m finding a cozy little wifi restaurant in downtown Portsmouth for some comfort and food. At home, the dead silence was kind of unpleasant (my husband is between Aruba and Panama City), and I say that as a person who generally likes peace and quiet.

I can see why people who could afford a piano in the olden days would buy one and learn to play, I was thinking as I looked at our old upright that I can’t play.

The cat and dog followed me around, but it would be nice to have a bird singing too. Anna, maybe I’ll adopt your guinea pig after all. He makes that sweet “weep-weep” sound.

Bass Beach

High Water, the general consensus.

Round the bend and swerve to avoid the rocks and tangled metal lobster traps in the road. (They couldn’t fit that on the sign.)

Onshore gale and rising tide?
Within your home you should abide.

Seacoastonline.com: Wet weather hammers Seacoast

The heavy-hitting storm that knocked out power
for hundreds of people in the region Sunday is expected to taper off
later today, but not before dishing out a few more punches.

Also, Sandbagging along Exeter River and Storm closes Ocean Boulevard in Rye

How to build an ark.

Pour’easter updates.