Since January, becoming an official New Hampshire resident has been a frustrating and exciting experience. The most exciting part, of course, being the belief that I am able to live and breathe in the most beautiful region of narrow country back roads bumping with frost heaves past horse stables and cherry blossom trees, barns and vast mountainous views, where the community thrives off of the rich art and music culture, the friendly faces of passerby’s and the value of entrepreneurship, the New England do-it-yourself spirit, and recognition that local matters, whether it be through farm shares, fair-trade, farmers markets, locally sourced menus, or a regional effort to become the healthiest community in the nation. This, all aside from the more frustrating parts: moving couches, hanging curtains, switching license plates, drivers license, address, figuring out health insurance, life insurance, applying for a credit card, bills, bills, graduating, friends leaving, office politics, and my cat consistantly peeing on the freshly cleaned bathroom rug.
I’m sure I could get this close-knit community feel somewhere else; but not like Keene. Sometimes I am afraid I will never want to leave; how could I ever be bored when there is so much to do in what seems like such a limited amount of time. Hot air balloon festivals, fair-trade parades, a BBQ and beer festival, antique markets and gallery tours, chocolate factories, hikes, and hidden waterfalls. Food trucks, blueberry picking, lakes, car shows, hilltop cafes, alpaca farms, a bacon and blues festival, a rock swap and mineral show…
This past weekend my mom, Wendy and Becky came up to visit and help clean out my Main St. apartment; the lease ended on Monday. Two years in the cute little space above Subway, the Italian herbs and cheese bread aroma that sat in the air on the stairway, the stench of frying oil wafting in my bedroom window from Lindy’s Diner every morning, mixed with Heathers candle burner. I did not feel sad though, as I thought I would, probably because I moved out a long time ago, but there was a short sting of longing for the small possessions and earrings that I know are long gone lost somewhere in between the deep floor cracks of that place. Whenever I swept, everything just went into those thin black holes.
After we cleaned vacuumed, mopped, magic erased, scrubbed and sweat, we perused through the Keene Farmers Market on Gilbo Ave. across from Lindy’s Diner. I saw a few people we have featured in the magazine, and they were so nice to talk to. Mom ended up buying 3 bars of goat milk soap from Holland Homestead Farm; lavender and chamomile and white tea ginger. We then drove into Walpole for a $5 wine tasting at Walpole Mountain View Winery.
I had not been to this winery before but only heard of it. We ventured deep into Walpole up long winding roads protected by a canopy of trees, past log houses and flowing creeks to the tippity-top of a hilled neighborhood overlooking the vast landscape of Vermont mountains. Although the winery is small, the family-owned business features 30 types of wines using types of grapes one is not usually familiar due to the cold climates of New England and the challenges of growing those grapes which we are familiar with; cabernet sauvignon, merlot, moscato, etc. However, the wine industry seems to be a quickly expanding agricultural community within the region, and I say this with information from the New England Wine Grape Growers’ Resource Center on the left-hand side of my laptop to back me up as well as meeting and hearing local and successful winemaker Amy LaBelle’s (of LaBelle Winery in Amherst) story on making one batch of blueberry wine in her Boston apartment in 2001 to an 11-acre complex with a bistro, tasting room, hosting tours, events, wine-inspired jellies, honey and more. She contributes to my magazine every few months with recipes and tips and her enlightening knowledge of grape growing.
Anyways, along with our 6 wine samples we snacked on Sawyers Artisanal Cheeses, which is also a business out of Walpole. We dined in a cozy burgundy room with christmas lights and golden goblets overlooking the vineyard and a view of the mountains. The flavors were a bit different than what I am used and the variety was fun to sample; I especially enjoyed their Frontenac Gris with hints of orange, and Mountain View Beau, a semi-sparkling dry rose, which we later drank with a cheese pizza dinner. We were quite giddy the entire time and Wendy bought 6 bottles of wine.
One of the woman at the winery recognized my name from the magazine and told me she loved my article on my first spray tan experience which I wrote a few weeks ago for the Body and Soul section. I told her that was not my best work but it was fun to hear that someone is reading the magazine and recognized my name! Love it. I also grabbed a handful of business cards from the little gift shop area they had of local artisans for story ideas; glass beads in the form of life cairns and the artisanal cheese company! Look for those articles in the upcoming issue of ELF!
And so, although there were many and still are quite a few anxious and stressful moments of what it takes to stay in Keene, together, this town and me make a great pair. I am hungry for all it has to offer and it is quenching that starvation quite plentifully right now.