July 16, 2017

New Hampshire and Margaret Porter



I’m not a native of this state in which I live. By moving here, I returned to the place my English ancestors settled in the mid-1630s. Unlike most immigrants, who stopped first in the Massachusetts colony, my forbears sailed directly to the New Hampshire coast. For me, this fact is a point of pride. My husband and I spent our honeymoon here one blazingly colourful autumn, and for many years we were seasonal residents—at our vintage cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee—before making a permanent move. I suspect those early settlers would be pleased by our decision to re-locate. Here are some of the reasons:


Seasonal variety. New Hampshire boasts four distinct major seasons, and even a few lesser ones. Winter feels long and can be extremely cold, but when the snow isn’t falling the sun gleams down upon the white landscape from a brilliant blue sky. With the thaw comes maple sugaring time, closely followed by mud season. Spring delivers pastels, and beautiful aromas when the lilac (our state flower) blooms in May. Summer means strawberries and kaleidoscope colours in gardens and wildflower meadows, and blueberries—wild or cultivated. Autumn harvest provides a abundance of apples and pumpkins, and the vivid oranges and reds of the trees—our state is 85 per cent forested—for which New England is rightly renowned.


Geography. It’s no exaggeration to say we have it all here. Mountains, lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls, and a seacoast with rocky sections and vast sandy beaches. Our tiny state is divided into seven regions named for distinguishing features: Great North Woods (forests), White Mountains (peaks), Lakes, Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region, Monadnock (mountain), Merrimack Valley (river), Seacoast. Our border with Canada makes for an easy international trip!


Recreation. Whatever the season, there’s something interesting to do. Ice castles, ice fishing, and international sled dog races in the winter. Agricultural fairs and festivals in summer and autumn. One of the most popular events is the https://nhscot.org/ New Hampshire Highland Games where folk of Scottish descent and notable visitors from Scotland dance, perform feats of strength, listen to traditional music, shop, and compare kilt patterns.



Culture. For centuries artists, sculptors, musicians, novelists, and poets have been drawn to New Hampshire for inspiration and relaxation. It features in Henry David Thoreau’s travelogue A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Louisa May Alcott spent summers here. The http://robertfrostfarm.org/ Robert Frost Farm in Derry is open to visitors, and many of his best-loved poems originated in that locale. Poet e.e. cummings was a summertime lakeside resident. Thornton Wilder wrote the play Our Town, set in New Hampshire, during a stay at the http://www.macdowellcolony.org/ Macdowell Colony, where numerous writers have been granted a productive residency, resulting in award-winning and bestselling works. Present-day local authors include such household names as Jodi Picoult, Dan Brown, PJ O’Rourke, Janet Evanovich, Sy Montgomery, and Tomie di Paola. The http://currier.org/ Currier Museum in Manchester, the largest city, houses a world-class art collection and sponsors tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House, and the http://www.manchesterhistoric.org/millyard-museum Millyard Museum highlights the era when Amoskeag Manufacturing was the world’s largest textile factory. The twenty-six colleges and university offer an array of public programs and exhibitions to entertain and inform, as does the https://www.nhhistory.org/ New Hampshire Historical Society and similar societies in most towns, no matter how large or small. Our Native American, colonial, and Revolutionary War history are celebrated at numerous sites. I love taking our visitors on a Covered Bridges Tour—we have so many, each one unique!



Politics. New Hampshire’s State House, the capital building located in downtown Concord, has the nation’s oldest legislative chamber still being used. During my two terms as a State Representative, every time I entered the historic building—two years shy of its bicentennial—I experienced a thrill. But in the warmer months, I melted from the lack of air conditioning! With 424 members, counting the House of Representatives and the Senate, ours is the third largest legislative body in the entire English-speaking world, after the British Houses of Parliament and the U.S. Congress. It is very much a legislature made up of ordinary citizens rather than political professionals, and close to and responsive to the needs of the people in cities, towns, villages, farms, factories, and schools. Our First in the Nation Primary in Presidential election years is mixed blessing. There’s really no year at all when presidential hopefuls aren’t trying to gain traction among New Hampshire voters! It’s unusual for a resident of this state not to have met one—and usually many more—of the top tier candidates before entering the voting booth on Election Day!



Quality of life. All the above adds up to the quality for me, but New Hampshire is nationally recognised as the Most Livable State, one of the Healthiest States, and one of the Safest States. And for the tax-averse, we have no income tax and no sales taxes.

Admittedly not one of my twelve published novels is set in New Hampshire, but I’ve got plenty of story ideas—so it’s only a matter of time. If you haven’t visited the Granite State, I do hope you will, and I can assure you of a very warm welcome!



MARGARET PORTER is the author of A Pledge of Better Times and eleven more British-set historical novels for various publishers, including several bestsellers and award-winners. Many foreign language editions have been published. She studied British history in the U.K. and afterwards worked in theatre, film and television. Margaret returns annually to Great Britain to research her books. She and her husband live in New Hampshire with their two dogs, dividing their time between a book-filled house in a small city and a waterfront cottage located on one of the region’s largest lakes. More information is available at her website, www.margaretporter.com . 




Leave a comment for your chance to win these prizes: an autographed copy of A Pledge of Better Times with bookmark, and a selection of handmade maple sugar candies from a New Hampshire maple sugaring operation. Please be sure to provide link to contact so you can because, if you win, I'll need to be able to find you for your mailing address!

22 comments:

jrlindermuth said...

One of the New England states I have yet to visit. You offer plenty of good reasons for making the journey, and I hope to do so one day--but not in the winter.

Margaret Carter said...

Lovely post. I'm a little puzzled, because as an employee of the Maryland General Assembly, I was taught that the Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol building in continuous use. However, the Old Senate Chamber (where Washington resigned his military commission) is no longer in use. Maybe that's the difference. We have the oldest building, you have the oldest chamber -- ? :)

GrumpyGranny said...

What a wonderful overview of a state I have yet to visit. I think a trip is in order soon, possibly with a visit to a certain lake house! Hopefully I can be in the running for the goodies, too. :-)

Margaret Porter said...

Margaret Carter, ours actually has the two oldest chambers in continuous use, as both our House and Senate still meet in their original chambers. (I was a House member, so I neglected to mention the Senate!) Thanks for a chance to clarify. Maryland is rightly proud of its historic state capital building, which pre-dates the Revolutionary War.

Margaret Porter said...

jrlindermuth, I am a rare creature who loves the New England winter, but I admit even I am thankful when it is over! As an avid gardener, I welcome the arrival of springtime!

traveler said...

Your informative post made New Hampshire so interesting, except for the lengthy, harsh winters which I can no longer deal with. When we lived in Mtl. we drove to New Hampshire many times and enjoyed the beauty.saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda Swift said...

Thank you for an armchair tour of your state. I have been to many states in the New England area but confess I have not yet been to Vermont. Your post has made me want to see it soon and I'll be looking for a tour to join. Best wishes for your writing career.
Linda Swift LSwiftR@aol.com

petite said...

New Hampshire certainly has a great deal to offer. The surroundings sound so scenic and appealing, except for the winter. When I drove through Maine, and Vermont we visited New Hampshire many years ago when I lived in a northern clime and loved the summer spent there. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Amy Reade said...

This was a lovely post. It's been years since I visited New Hampshire, and I'd love to go back someday. It's just beautiful there, and I loved your pictures. My daughter will be studying British history--I hope she finds a job that she loves as much as you love yours!

Cara Marsi said...

Enjoyed your post. I traveled through New Hampshire as a teenager on a road trip through NE with my family. I remember it as a very pretty place.

Margaret Porter said...

Linda Swift, I don't know much about Vermont, although I visit there every couple of years. There's quite a rivalry between my state and Vermont--the two have the same shape, although we in New Hampshire say Vermont is 'upside down'! A very significant difference is that we have a seacoast and Vermont is landlocked. And our mountains are taller. And our cities larger. And....

Margaret Porter said...

Petite, I hope you will return and s pend more time here. I think you will find it worthwhile!

Margaret Porter said...

Amy Reade, best of luck to your daughter in her studies, and thanks for your kind words about this post. Do come back to New Hampshire someday!

Margaret Porter said...

Traveler, I hope I'll always be able to cope with tough winters. Some are worse than others, and we're never quite sure what a 'normal' one is! But the other three seasons more than make up for the cold and snow--at least they do for me!

Margaret Porter said...

Cara Marsi, NH hasn't changed--it's still pretty. Hope you can return someday!

Margaret Porter said...

Grumpy Granny, looking forward to that visit!

Carly Carson said...

I'm in Vermont right now but I'm in NH about every other day. They are both beautiful states. I think NH residents have done a great job in making an economically thriving state.

S.J. Francis said...

Beautiful post with lots of information. I've had the pleasure to visit New Hampshire many times and each time is a new stop. For such a small state, it does have quite a bit to offer. Thanks for sharing this!
Cheers!
S.J. Francis
www.sjfranciswriter.com

Margaret Porter said...

S.J. Francis, yes, this state is fortunate in have a great deal of variety, many attractions, and so much natural beauty!

Margaret Porter said...

Carly Carson, you have the best of both worlds! VT is a great state also! (Even if it's 'upside down' from the NH perspective!

Linda Thorne said...

Maryland is as close as I've gotten to the New England states. I've always wanted to see them all, but jobs and money and life got in the way of getting that far. I had a high school best friend (when in Arizona) move to New Hampshire and she told me many stories about the area. We'd never had snow in Phoenix, Arizona. New Hampshire sounded like such a far off, fascinating place. I enjoyed your post about this state.

Margaret Porter said...

Linda Thorne, thanks for commenting and I hope you have a chance to visit someday!