New Hampshire Motor Speedway gets my vote for the best community outreach program! Once a year, they open the track to locals for the Kohl’s Safe Kids 500. Kids and their parents are invited to bike, scooter or skate around the 1 mile oval track.
This is the third year we’ve gone and it has become a much anticipated family tradition. My son especially enjoys this opportunity. As soon as the flyer comes home from school he memorizes the date. Anytime any day NEAR the date of “The Race” is mentioned, he reminds us solemnly that “The Race” is coming up. As if we could possibly forget or worse double book for that night. Yesterday he wore a frown of concern for most of the afternoon as the skies were cloudy and there were sporadic showers. I had heard a detailed forecast earlier in the day that predicted the skies would be clear by the time we were to leave, but even I kept my fingers crossed.
This is my son’s first year on a two wheeled bike. The first year, he had just mastered the tricycle and we chuckled as his chunky little legs struggled to make it around one time while he told us he was “faster than fast” and “quicker than quick” just like his hero Lightening McQueen. Last year he was still on the tricycle, but managed almost two and a half laps before running out of steam. This year on his new to him two wheeler, he was feelin’ the need for speed. On his second lap, he crashed and burned just after turn two, but after a Band Aid and a few kisses our racing pro was back tearing up the black top.
All in all, it was a great night, and one of us, is already counting the days until next year. Thanks NHMS!
This weeked brought the first of May and 80 degree temperatures. We celebrated by heading North. My mother-in-law has a camp in the Lakes Region. She very generously makes it available for family to use. The Lake as we refer to it is by far, one of my favorite places on earth. There is a TV, but we rarely turn it on. There is Internet access, but that just means my husband can really vacation there because if a client desperately needs him, he can help without having to leave.
There’s a lake for enjoying, and activities for partaking, or . . . not. There are playgrounds for the kids and other kids for the kids. There is a well posted and community enforced speed limit of 10 miles an hour. There is excellent pizza and fabulous ice cream within reasonable driving distance.
By far, my favorite feature is this.
A firepit, encircled with comfortable chairs. There is usually cooler with cold beverages close by. After the kids go to bed, we sit and swap stories, or we don’t talk at all. We just sit and watch the flames dance. It is my definition of relaxation.
Yes, there are meals to be prepared, and cleaning to be done. but less of both. The space is smaller, the pace slower, life, simpler.
This weekend we made the first of what will be many trips in the summer of 2010 and it was a much needed break for all of us.
This was our weekend:
A pancake breakfast for the Lion’s Club, the PTA Easter Egg Hunt and the bake sale, the Winter Farmer’s Market in Concord (Fresh eggs and Apples yum!), and a birthday party for one of my son’s classmates. The neighbors had asked us to stop by, so we meandered across the street for a “quick” visit. Two hours and two tired kids later, it was time to go home. 8pm is too late for steak tips, so Lucky Charms and frozen pizza it is!
Sunday brought a trip to visit the Mudgett Hill Mumbling Maplers and their annual fundraiser for Make A Wish. A gallon of syrup, some raffle tickets, 4 maple whoopie pies and we were on our way home for a brief stop before I took my son to another birthday party.
After the party, it was home again. A little family time, dinner, tubs and bed.
Crazy? Oh yeah, but other than the birthday parties, it was all optional and yet, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a single activity. One of the things that I most treasure about living here is the active community. Parents work hard to support the school and citizens volunteer their time to make the world a better place. I can’t think of a better place to call home.
What are some of the “can’t miss” activities in your community?
Another sure sign of spring is Town Meeting season.
Town Meeting is the epitome of citizen government. One person, one vote. One vote on issues that directly impact my day to day way of life. One vote on issues that are right in my backyard (sometimes literally).
When I moved here, citizen government was something I read about in my high school AP American History class. I grew up Levittown, Pennsylvania, where local government was managed at the township level. Honestly, I have no recollection of local government at all. I moved to Boston, a big city with a Mayor and City Councilors. I voted, but still felt very removed from the process.
Our town is governed a Board of Selectmen and legislated by a traditional town meeting. Warrant articles are proposed (most frequently by the selectmen, but I’ve seen a few drafted by regular citizens too). Some are voted on during the annual elections (for town officers). Most are discussed and voted on at Town Meeting, held on a Saturday in March. One of the warrant articles is always dedicated to raising and appropriating the sum of $X million dollars to run the town, a.k.a, The Budget. Other articles have been about buying police cars, maintaining roads, or constructing buildings just to name a few. The Budget is always second to last on the agenda and is frequently cause for the most discussion.
I can honestly say I enjoy town meeting. The back and forth discussion is sometimes comical, sometimes frustrating, sometimes long winded, but at the behest of the meeting moderator (an elected official), it is always polite. It is worth noting that polite discussion doesn’t preclude heated discussion. I’ve seen red faces and teary eyes as people discuss spending they find outrageous or cuts that go too far.
Is it exciting? Nah. I bring my knitting and a water bottle. The Boy Scouts sell, hot dogs, and pastries. The Girl Scouts sell cookies. The folding chairs or bleachers are less than comfy, but in my mind it is a small sacrifice for having a say in how my hard earned tax dollars are spent.
I do find it disconcerting, that I am frequently one of the youngest faces in the gym and let’s face it folks, at 41, I’m not a babe in the woods, but by Town Meeting standards, I’m a youngin’. People my age in this town typically have kids, frequently, both parents work and Saturdays are devoted to items on the to-do list or kids extra-cirricular activities. I get it. We’re all busy, but this matters.
As Josephine Citizen, I feel I have no direct impact on what happens in Washington, D.C. or even Concord. Sure, I can pick up the phone or fire off an email to my elected officials, but I am one of thousands or hundreds of thousands of voices. My input is collected, aggregated, analyzed and weighed against many other factors. But, I can (and do) have a say in what happens in my own backyard.
This year, I brought my 9 year old. I warned her it would be boring, but I want her to understand that life isn’t always exciting and sometimes you just have to slog through the important stuff. She too brought her water bottle and knitting and I also had her bring the Town Meeting Scavenger Hunt from the Concord Monitor to help pass the time.
Of course, this year, thanks to the hard work of the selectmen, we were in and out in an hour. The drama was minimal but it was a good introduction to the democratic process. I fully intend to keep bringing her and as soon as my 5 year old can sit relatively still, he’ll come too. I hope they’ll gain an understanding of what it really takes to be an active citizen.
How is your local government run? Do you feel like you have a voice?
- Cranmore Mountain http://www.cranmore.com/info/winter/tubing.asp
- Great Glen Trails http://www.greatglentrails.com/Winter-Page-61.html
- KingPine http://www.kingpine.com/snowtubing.php
- Loon Mountain http://www.loonmtn.com/info/winter/gravity.aspx
- McIntyre Ski Area http://www.mcintyreskiarea.com/tubing
- Pat’s Peak http://www.patspeak.com/snowtubing.htm
- Tenney Mountain http://www.tenneymtn.com/tubing_park.html
At the risk of repeating myself. I LOVE winter. Generally I love the snow (although there are times when it is frustrating). I love the cool air, warm sweaters, steaming mugs of tea or hot cocoa, soups, roasts, and I could go on and on.
- The Balsams, Dixville Notch – www.thebalsams.com/home or call 800-255-0600
- Mountain View Grand, Whitefield- www.mountainviewgrand.com or call 866-484-3843.
- Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods 800-314-1752 or 603-278-1000 or visit www.mountwashingtonresort.com.
- Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway visit www.cranmore.com/winter or call 800-SUN-N-SKI.
- Purity Springs www.purityspring.com or call 603-367-8896 or 800-373-3754.
- Waterville Valley 800-468-2553 or visit www.waterville.com/winter/.
- Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury www.mountsunapee.com/mtsunapeewinter/ or call 603-763-3500.
Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the quest for the “perfect” tree meant visiting the Boy Scouts, a local church or the camper of questionable origin inhabiting the abandoned gas station on the corner. Sometimes, it meant visiting all three (or more) but that is a story for another time.
The first Christmas I spent in New Hampshire my future husband and mother-in-law took me to a local tree farm to cut down the tree. I was amazed that such places really existed (city kid, remember??).
Now that we have our own family, one of our traditions is to tag a tree around Thanksgiving and return to cut it down a few weeks before Christmas. It eases us into the Christmas season.
There is a sign advertising trees on a road we travel virtually every day. From the road, you don’t expect much, but once you pull in to the driveway, there are trees almost as far as the eye can see. I love it because clearly this is a side business for the homeowner, but one that he enjoys. We’ve never even met the man. Trees are tagged and purchased on the honor system (another reason I like supporting this business).
The day we went to tag our tree, we’d been geocaching, so I had the GPS with me. For giggles, I set a way point (a fixed location that you can navigate back to) in the GPS, so we could easily find our tree. This would have been much more helpful IF, I had actually remembered to bring the GPS with us when we went to cut down the tree this past Saturday.
Snow had fallen since our initial visit and our collective memory was a little foggy. Eventually Daddy circled in on it and much to everyone’s relief, our carefully selected tree was located.
Then we all paraded back to the truck with our treasure. It rested in the basement overnight to shed its snow and on Sunday decoration commenced.
From a purist perspective, this is far from the perfect tree. It would never have passed my mother’s scrutiny. The trunk isn’t really straight, it has some bare spots and a bulge of growth on one side. The kids love it and, I think it is the perfect tree (even if it does require string to insure it stands upright).
As we were battling to keep the tree upright (see string above), my husband muttered something about an artificial tree next year. I have just four words.
Over my dead body.
Ahhhhhh, finally, it is starting to look like December should in New Hampshire. I like, no, I LOVE snow. It blankets the world and with it comes ski season, and sledding and many other fun winter activities. I survive summer, I thrive in Winter.
Yesterday saw the first substantial snow storm of this winter and our first snow day. The kids and I slept late and then bundled up to play out side. We easily have 10 inches in our backyard. The snow was falling hard, but the temperature hovered near freezing, so conditions were just about perfect. You could be outside without freezing to death.
The day “off” yesterday put me behind, so for now, I’ll leave you with “Sled Cam”. Enjoy!