Just so you know about Lake Winnipesaukee

  1. Situated near the center of New Hampshire, it’s the state’s largest lake and the third largest in New England.
  2. It stretches about 21 miles and varies in width up to nine miles, covering about 71 square miles.
  3. The lake contains at least 264 islands and has 288 miles of shoreline.
  4. Maximum depth is 180 feet, augmented by a dam at Lakeport.
  5. The center part of the lake is called the Broads.
  6. The outflow joins with the Pemigewasset River to form the Merrimack, which heads south into Massachusetts before turning east to the Atlantic. Its waters powered many of the industrial mills along its way, including Manchester, Nashua, Lowell, and Lawrence.
  7. The Native name translates as either “smile of the Great Spirit” or “beautiful water in a high place.”
  8. Officially, it’s not a lake but a “great pond,” which the General Court has defined as a natural lake of more than ten acres. The state owns the beds of all the great ponds, making the surface public water.
  9. Ice-out is a popular measure of the end of winter in the Granite State. It’s declared when the ice on the lake breaks up sufficiently for the Mount Washington cruise vessel to make it to every one of its five ports: Center Harbor, Wolfeboro (“the Oldest Summer Resort in America”), Alton, Weirs Beach, and Meredith. It’s also considered the beginning of boating season. The date has varied from March 16 to May 12.
  10. It’s hard to spell. That’s why it’s often known as Lake Winni.

Looking out at the Pawtuckaways

The three peaks of the Pawtuckaway mountains to the west of us are viewed here from the Garrison Hill tower. Well, the middle one is obscured by the tree. Still, they’re prominent points in southeastern New Hampshire, midway between the Seacoast region and the Merrimack River, with good views of Boston from the forest fire lookout tower atop the 908-foot South Mountain (left).

I’ve never seen so many eagles in my life

Their wingspans can reach six feet, extended straight out when soaring.

American bald eagles are majestic birds, among the largest in the air. From the first one I saw, back in the early months of 1977, I’ve found the sight of them to be exciting and inspiring. I was, in fact, one of a handful of folks who saw that first eagle to return to the Yakima Valley of Washington state, an event that prompts one scene in my novel, “Nearly Canaan.”

Since then, I’ve seen hundreds, from the North Cascades and Olympic Peninsula to the upper Mississippi River and the Great Falls of the Potomac, and then New Hampshire and Maine, especially. I loved looking up while working in the yard or swimming backstrokes in the city’s Jenny Thompson pool and seeing an eagle or two overhead.

Since landing the Eastport house in December and all the drives back to Dover, though, I seem to be seeing them everywhere. One Friday, on my way to Dover, I counted a dozen along the way, followed the next day by another just a block away from the Red Barn. It helps, of course, to know what you’re looking for.

Now, I’ve finally been able to photograph one. I’m hoping for more.

The white head and white tail on a black body make for a sure identification.

This one was over Deep Cove in Eastport.