On the road to satori

Like Zen, my mind works in strange ways, and this is how I too often see things.

How I often see or hear life around me.

I can imagine a Buddhist sutra in which two monks observe the sign. They’re walking, of course, rather than driving.

The first says something pithy asking how Zen, being nothing, can do anything, much less work.

And the second replies that work’s nothing, too. But it’s not lazy.

Better, I suppose, than “ZZZ Working,” which many assume while passing the usual sign and seeing the crew standing by idly.

If you like this, please clap with one hand.

Does anyone else envy the summer guests on Star Island?

The historic Oceanic Hotel is now part of a conference center run by a consortium of Unitarian-Univeralists and the United Church of Christ. Its week-long programs are a popular family destination. Cape Ann, Massachusetts, sits on the horizon.

The second largest island in the Isles of Shoals, Star is the only one with commercial boat service to the mainland. The state line between New Hampshire and Maine runs through the small harbor.

Here’s an idea of the hotel’s isolation. You say you want to get away from everything? Apart from your fellow guests, this is just about perfect. But forget about going in winter. That ocean can get wild.¬†

 

Closer up. In the 1600 and 1700s, the Isles of Shoals became a major summertime fishing camp, where cod were dried for European markets. They garnered four times the price of Norwegian cod. The chapel remains from that era.

Guests and supplies get to the island on the Thomas Leighton ferry, which plies the waters from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It can be a jolly experience, if the ocean’s on the calm side.

Regular service. This one’s returning to Portsmouth. Appledore Island rises to the left, while Star Island is just to the left of the ferryboat.

 

It can be a popular ride. Some people go out as a day trip.

Where the coastline remains an Impressionist impression

Appledore Island scenes like this, off the mainland of Maine and New Hampshire, inspired some of American Impressionist master Childe Hassam’s great paintings.

 

There was no nude model with her back to us when we visited, unlike at least one of Hassam’s paintings of this geologic rift formation.

 

One end of rugged Appledore Island is still home to fishermen.

 

Rockweed on the intertidal zone of a white rock makes a bold image. The standing gulls add their own touch.

Watching the riverfront change

I’m waiting for the new walkways to open along the river in front of the expanding Riparia on the far shore. The developers are also hoping for a restaurant with outdoor dining. Historically, the river was lined with factories, warehouses, ice houses, and a few tanneries, all of them blocking access to the flowing water. Here’s a view from the top of the parking garage.

Upper Square in perspective

Upper Square makes for some delightful shopping. The horse trough in the median is a nod to the past.

 

Central Avenue, while walking from the river toward Upper Square.

 

A glimpse at Fourth Street, one-block long, illustrates the challenge in creating an inviting neighborhood. At the moment, there’s nothing to entice passers-by to turn down the street. The old county courthouse is vacant, and former storefronts are used for storage. At best, it’s a shortcut to the parking lot at the Amtrak station.

 

In contrast, as Fifth Street demonstrates, side streets can add much to a downtown’s usefulness and appeal.

At Fort William and Mary

The small New Castle lighthouse is one of two along the Piscataqua River as it links Portsmouth Harbor to the Atlantic.

This fortification guarding the mouth of the Piscataqua River in New Castle, New Hampshire, has a unique place in American history. It was raided twice by Patriots in 1774, and the gunpowder and cannons captured from the British were later deployed at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston. Its small lighthouse is one of two along Portsmouth Harbor.

The panorama view shows the lighthouse in context with fortifications originally built before 1632 and renamed Fort William and Mary around 1692.