It’s the season for Rhododendrons here in New England. The plants grow into large bushes and when not in bloom turn into tidy green humps of attractive leaves that stay green all year. The Blooms are large and riotously spectacular. This one is white and lives in the amazing backyard of the house where I’m living. At my daughter’s house there is a lavender one. I would say there’s a large Rhododendron plant or two per block along every street here in Portsmouth and surrounding towns.
I moved to New Hampshire from Taos, New Mexico, on May 1st, and there’s been the usual progression of amazing spring blossoms here to welcome me, but these Rhododendrons do take the cake. I bet I’ll associate their outrageous beauty with my first year here. The peony flowers and the roses are starting to bloom now.
These were some peonies I saw yesterday directly across the street from my residence at 411 Middle Street. If you’re curious about the house you can Google that address. The house has its own website and is best known for its inspiring back yard garden. It’s a communal house with about 17 residents, more or less at any given time.
This steeple marks the center of downtown Portsmouth and like Mount Fuji you can see it from afar and it can be helpful for newcomers like me to orient themselves. I can ride my bicycle to town from the house in very little time. It might be a distance of 5 blocks to my bank or the downtown health food store or the post office. Just by exploring Portsmouth by bike or walking I discovered a store featuring imports from India and was able to open my first card account last week. Portsmouth has a lively retail array of stores that appeal to visitors so I am hoping there will be other venues for my art to meet the public. Speaking of which, I still have cards for sale in Taos in two locations, Garden & Soul and Wabi Sabi.
My daughter, Katrina, and her family, live in the next town to the south, Rye, which is famous for its beaches, especially Jenness Beach, which is near her home. As she demonstrates, if you don’t like the cold water but you want to swim you get a wet suit. Apparently Jenness is the best beach for surfing in the area so it’s a busy, popular place. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to go there with my family, a favorite summer hangout for them.
Yes, Portsmouth has a great farm market every Saturday. I took this photo because of the name of the farm, Live Free. The state motto of New Hampshire is a strange one, “live free or die.” Not sure what to make of it, but it will soon be posted on my license plate. I do miss my favorite vendors from the Taos farm market but in time I’m sure I’ll make new market friends. I noticed maple syrup is a local product you don’t find in New Mexico.
The girl doing the cartwheel is my granddaughter, Emma, who’s attending a weekly gymnastics class at age 13. She has astonished me with her strength and skillful poise. She and a close school friend decided only a month or two ago to take up this demanding sport at an age that would likely preclude their ever participating in competitions. They are just doing it because they have ability and interest and together they are having a lot of fun challenging themselves. Every few weeks I involve myself in transporting them and the fun of being an appreciative spectator. The venue is a large facility and they have numerous classes of different age groups all meeting at the same time. Very entertaining!
And last, but not least, is my #2 granddaughter, Charlotte, age 23 months. Her 2nd birthday will take place on the 4th of July and I’m happy that I won’t be missing the occasion this year. She and I are forging a relationship that will last my lifetime and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.
It has taken awhile to settle in since the move that started in mid April when I began packing up my things. At my age it’s quite a strain on the old computer brain to pack up and relocate. Eventually I found it helpful to allow myself to shift into a kind of right-brain flow with a focus on the present. Still losing track of all that left-brain order did seem to come with a lot of forgetfulness and general “spaced out” behavior. My mood, however, was positive and appreciative.
So here I am in mid-June, two months later, seemingly waking up from the transition and feeling more like my old familiar self, albeit in a very different environment. One thing for sure, I am not lonely. I have beautiful house mates here in the Portsmouth house and plenty of loved ones nearby. The time I spend alone seems precious and nurturing as opposed to the every-day normal thing that it was in Taos. Obviously I was ready for a change and I’ve found it in spades.
As my teacher Gangaji says “look inside for what doesn’t change.” I’m seeing that all this recent change is superficial to who I am at a deeper place, and yet I know all these new experiences will change me in subtle ways. I welcome it.