Howard — Robert Frost visits Laconia

By Elizabeth Howard


Poets view the world through a different lens. Now, more than ever, it is refreshing to turn to them for the vivid images they create for us through written words. Robert Frost, through Stephen Collins, appeared at the Laconia Public Library on Tuesday evening. I am disappointed I couldn't have been there to hear the reading of "The Death of the Hired Man" and to participate in reading some of Frost's poems aloud.

Robert Faggen edited The Notebooks of Robert Frost (The Belknap Press, Harvard University Press) and one of the entries, written in pencil in a black leather flip pad 4 ½" x 2 ¾ " and in the archives of the Barrett Collection of the University of Virginia, is: "Progress is like walking on a rolling barrel. The interest is not in where you are going but in keeping up with and on top of the barrel. ..." Sage advice.

If you haven't visited Frost Place, Robert Frost's simple wooden farmhouse tucked on a road just outside of the village of Franconia, it is a lovely way to spend a summer afternoon. Robert Frost and his family lived there full-time from 1915 to 1920 and spent nineteen summers in Franconia. A trail beyond the house has markers with quotations from some of his poems.
We also think of poets and poetry around Valentine's Day. While most people celebrate with roses, tulips are one of my favorite flowers. The poet, Ned O'Gorman, wrote a poem titled "Tulips" and it begins:

They are very still in jars
In pots, in garden beds; they
are very still. The wind slides
by them, leaving the air clamped
down by their stems like jade poles;
their ears like elephant ears. ...

Sylvia Plath begins her poem titled "Tulips" with lines that are appropriate to February, particularly in New Hampshire:

The Tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed in. ...

If you love poetry, as I do, I remind you that April 21 is Poem in Your Pocket Day when people throughout the United States are encouraged to select a poem, carry it with them and share it with others This initiative was started in New York in 2002 and six years later it became a national initiative through the Academy of American Poets. It isn't too early to begin reading and finding your poem for April.

Remember the small Valentines we made and sent as children, tucking them into a box in school covered with red crepe paper and lace-shaped hearts. It was always the card you didn't expect to receive that brought the most joy. I encourage you to send a Valentine to an unsuspecting friend, colleague or family member who may be away. It will bring a smile, I'm certain.

I share with you my tulips and the wish for a joyous Valentine's Day.

Elizabeth Howard's career intersects journalism, marketing and communications. Ned O'Gorman: A Glance Back, a book she edited, will be published in May, 2016. She is the author of A Day with Bonefish Joe, a children's book, published by David R. Godine. She lives in New York City and has a home in Laconia. You can send her a note at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Lakes Region Profiles — The Lakes Region is alive with the sound of music

By Mary O'Neill

Sales Associate at Roche Realty Group


The Lakes Region is known for its abundance of four-season sports and outside activities: swimming, skating, boating, hiking, kayaking, hunting, fishing, snowboarding, yard sailing, antiquing, skiing... the list goes on and on. But do not underestimate the sound of music in the Lakes Region.

The New Hampshire Music Festival has brought music to the area for over 63 years. When it was founded in 1952, the festival consisted of a small chamber orchestra which performed on Melody Island in Lake Winnipesaukee. For the past 20 years, the festival has been based at Plymouth State University's Hanaway Theatre. Today, this organization brings together musicians from around the country to perform well-known classics and contemporary works. The festival delves into innovative artistic paths while honoring the classical tradition. Patrons are immersed in world-class performances of symphonic, choral, and chamber music. Each year, around 200 musicians participate and nearly 20,000 individuals benefit from the festival's activities. In addition to dynamic performances in the Hanaway Theatre, the festival offers exciting series such as "Music in the Mountains" (with sunrise, sunset, and campground concerts in the mountains and Lakes Region), and family and educational programs.

The festival is spearheaded by a dynamic team. Dan Perkins serves as Principal Guest Conductor and Director of Choral Activities. He has been a professor of music and director of choral activities at Plymouth State University for 23 years. He is also director and founder of the New Hampshire Master Chorale, director of the Manchester Choral Society, and faculty member of the Bassi Brugnatelli International Conducting and Singing Symposium in Robbiate, Italy. He is active as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the U.S. and abroad and his choirs have performed throughout the world. Executive Director Deborah Kosits has brought her more than 30 years of experience to help make the festival the dynamic organization that it is today. This year, the festival welcomes back Paul Polivnick as conductor laureate. Polivnick, who was conductor laureate in 2009 and served as music director from 1992 to 2009, will lead "Wanderlust" this 2016 season. Polivnick graduated from the Juillard School and is a well-known figure on the world stage. He has conducted orchestras across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. This year, the festival's season runs from July 5 through August 4 and the program will be announced shortly. Visit for more information.

Another source of music in the heart of the Lakes Region – close enough to echo over Lake Winnipesaukee – is the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion. The 2016 concert series includes performances by Ringo Starr, Keith Urban, Brantley Gilbert, Twenty One Pilots, Florida Georgia Line, Dave Matthews Band, Darius Rucker, and more. More information can be found at World-renowned performers can also be enjoyed at concerts funded by the Laconia Putnam Fund.

The hills surrounding Gunstock and Belknap Mountains resonate with the sound of music during SoulFest, held at Gunstock Mountain Resort. SoulFest has become New England's foremost multi-day music festival and family retreat and every year draws thousands. During the event 5 stages are set up on the beautiful grounds of Gunstock. The event features over 75 world-renowned Christian artists and speakers and three days of inspirational music, activities, and fellowship. Concert-goers can camp onsite or stay nearby in one of the many motels, condos, and hotels. This year, SoulFest will take place from August 4 through August 6. See for information.

Theatres in the area also bring the sound of music to the Lakes Region. The Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Meredith has a variety of musical productions throughout the year. In April, the Playhouse will feature "Pitch! A College A Capella Concert," where some of New England's best college a capella groups will come together for a concert of great songs. In May the Playhouse will present the musical comedy "Guys and Dolls." This popular Broadway show has a memorable score, with songs such as "Luck Be a Lady," "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat," and "I've Never Been In Love Before." For information on these and other performances, visit Some of the other venues bringing music to the area include Franklin Opera House, Great Waters Music Festival in Wolfeboro, Interlakes Summer Theatre in Meredith, The Barnstormers in Tamworth, and Little Church Theatre in Holderness.

You can also enjoy a variety of music at many restaurants in the region. Giuseppe's Show Time Pizzeria in Meredith has nightly musical entertainment. Patrick's Pub & Eatery in Gilford brings in talented musicians to play for patrons. The Holy Grail of the Lakes in Laconia, Fratello's Italian Grill in Laconia, and Wolfe's Tavern in Wolfeboro are just a few of many places where you can be entertained while you dine.

The music does not stop there. From town bandstands to local fairs and festivals, the sound of music rings through the mountains and across the lakes. There are plentiful opportunities to listen and also join in. This year's first annual Pumpkin Fest in Laconia, for instance, will be remembered for its 9,567 pumpkins but also for the Canal Street sing-along instigated by Frates Studio. The street was packed with hundreds of people, young and old, joining in a rendition of tunes. The fun-filled uproar could be heard throughout the town.

If your voice or musical skills need a little polish, the Lakes Region has the talent to ready you for the challenge. Karen Simpson of the Music Clinic in Belmont is  one of many gifted instructors in the area. Karen is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston and teaches voice, guitar, piano, violin and many other instruments as well as theory, songwriting and conducting. Her clinic has been offering instruction since 1993 and to date has taught more than 2,500 students. Christine Chiasson of New England Voice and Music offers voice and piano instruction, music theatre classes, group classes, and workshops. Lessons can also be had at the New Hampshire Independent School of Music in Sandwich, Beaudin Piano and many others.

In the Lakes Region, the hills literally are alive with the sound of music. Come join in the song.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Mary O'Neill is a sales associate at Roche Realty Group in Meredith & Laconia, and can be reached at 366-6306.

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DuBois — The nuts and bolts of winter hiking

Clear cold days, rime ice, outstanding views, ice crystals hanging from spruce bows, solitude on a snow covered trail and no bugs: these are some of the many reasons why I and many others take to the mountains during the winter season. A winter tramp in the woods and mountains of the Lakes Region and beyond can be an experience that some would say is addicting. Others I know cannot fathom the idea of trekking up a mountainside in three feet of snow, with the wind howling and temperatures hovering around zero. But with careful planning, appropriate skills and knowledge it can be a wonderful, exhilarating experience with incredible intrinsic and physical rewards.

However, a winter hike can end in misery or even disaster if you are not properly prepared. Several years ago, I was hiking the Bond Cliff Trail with my son and as we climbed to the top of the cliff edge we were blasted my wind and snow. As we looked up the trail, we saw a couple of figures struggling to find their way. When we approached them, we noticed they wore only lightweight clothing, running shoes and had small packs hanging from their backs. They had lost their way in the changing weather conditions. They had no map, compass or other gear to get them back to safety below the cliff edge. After a brief exchange of words we led them back down the mountain to the shelter of the woodlands below. Their winter sojourn could have ended in disaster, because of poor planning and being ill-equipped for hiking in winter conditions.

If you are contemplating a winter hike and do not want to end your hike as these two characters did, there are several things you need to consider. First and foremost is planning. Research the route or trail you plan to hike. Write down the trip itinerary (route, day/time start and end the hike) and leave it with a friend or spouse. Check the most recent weather report. As most of us know, weather can change quickly in the mountains, so you need to be prepared for any and all conditions. In addition, the conditions at the base of the mountain or the trailhead are usually much different than at higher elevations, particularly on the summits. It isn't rare to see flatlanders hiking up Mount Lafayette totally ill-equipped for weather at 4,000 feet.

Proper clothing and layering are the most important part of any winter journey. Layering allows you to easily adjust your clothes to regulate body moisture and temperature. After you begin hiking your body will start to warm. You do not want to get overheated and sweat. Adjust your layers of clothing by adding or removing to prevent heat buildup and sweating. Three layers are considered normal: a liner layer against your skin, a fleece layer for insulation and a wind/waterproof layer. This is applied to both your upper and lower torso. You should also have additional clothing in your pack for further warmth and protection. None of your clothing should be cotton. As the expression goes, "cotton kills." Cotton clothing holds moisture when it gets wet, either from sweat, snow or rain. Wear only wool or a synthetic material. Over half of your body's heat loss occurs through the head. A balaclava and cap will ensure you stay warm. I was told, "If your feet are cold, put on a hat."

Your footwear should be of well-oiled leather or plastic winter hiking boots, with good insulating qualities. Do not wear summer hiking shoes. There is nothing worse than hiking in cold, wet feet. Snowshoes, micro spikes or crampons are also going to be needed, depending on the conditions of the trail. Even though we are seeing grass around our homes, the higher elevations in the mountains could have three or four feet of snow and ice. Trekking poles are important for balance in snow or going over those icy spots. You also may want to consider wearing gaiters. They add extra warmth to your lower leg, and keep snow and ice out of your boots

Bring plenty of food and water. I usually carry two liters in insulated bottle jackets. You could also place your bottles in a heavy wool socks. It's very important to include plenty of carbohydrates in your food bag to provide fuel for hiking and for simply keeping your body warm. I like to bring two peanut butter and honey sandwiches made from Nancy's home-made bread and our own home-grown honey.

Other considerations:

Be sure you're in adequate physical condition for the trail.
Hike with a buddy.
Carry a headlamp, with extra batteries
Bring a first aid kit.
Pack a map and compass, and know how to use them.
Bring 2 pairs of gloves or mittens, with liners.
Pack an extra pair of socks

One last point: Do not depend on your GPS, cell phone or other electronic device for trail finding or to call home when you get lost. In the mountains, cell phone service is not always available and batteries die in cold conditions. These devices can be helpful, but depending on them is not wise.

If you would like to learn more about winter hiking and backpacking, there are several good books and websites, such as The AMC also offers winter hiking and camping workshops. Hiking safely and sensibly are the key words for any tramp in the woods. This takes on extra significance in the winter as there is little room for error. Plan your winter hike sensibly, so you can return to the trail and enjoy those crystal clear views that only winter can offer.

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Sanborn - Going to the dogs

Going to the dogs...

By Roy Sanborn

There were 750 single-family residential homes on the market as of Feb. 1 in the 12 communities covered by this Lakes Region Real Estate Market Report. The average asking price stood at $527,071 and median price point was $259,900. Last February 1 there were 781 homes on the market. Between the great year we had as far as total sales and the fact that a pile of listings went off the market on Jan. 1, the current inventory has fallen to an eight-month supply on the market. That's pretty good compared to where we have been running.

There are dog people and there are people that don't like dogs. They don't get it. They could be cat people. Cat people have it easy when it comes to buying a house because it seems, at least to me, that cats can live just about anywhere. I've never had a buyer that even gave their cat any consideration in the purchase of their new home. Cats can live contently in a third-floor apartment or on a farm in the barn. You have to give your dogs a little more consideration when picking out a home...

I think there ought to be a section in the MLS system that lists features a dog might like. This should be called "Dog Features." Right now I think the only option that would give you a clue as to whether a house is dog-friendly would be that there is a "dog fence" or "invisible pet fence" listed in the Exterior Features section. That's actually a pretty big thing. At each of the last four houses I have bought I had to have a fence put up before we could move in. That can get costly. I am not smart enough to have small dogs that require a smaller area, no, I have to have bigger dogs and a big fenced area so they can run freely. Of course, the benefit to me is I don't have to walk the dogs at 6 a.m. so they can do their business.

When a dog owner reads the MLS features online, he looks for things that are important to him like "doggie door," "level entry to back yard," "nonslip stair treads," "mud area to roll in," or "abundant squirrel population." A "large windows overlooking fenced yard" option is also important to survey and control the "abundant squirrel population."

I didn't realize how important "neighbors with chickens" are to a dog until I moved to a house that had a neighbor with chickens. That's another reason why you need a "dog fence."

I had also forgotten how important a "wood stove" is to a dog until we moved into our current home. One of our dogs has to lie almost underneath it and bake his brain. The "wood stove" option should appear under the list of "dog features" so it isn't missed. And, as much time as my dogs spend on the floor, "in-floor radiant heat" is probably more important to them than it is to me.

"Single-level living" or "first-floor master" is as important to your aging pooch as it is to the Baby Boomer population, so these definitely should be on the list of options. And "ample kibble storage" and "dedicated elevated eating station" are very important for a pet-friendly environment.

You might think that "home office" shouldn't appear under "dog features," but your pup really wants you to stay home so he can keep an eye on you. It's a control thing, I know, but it's important to him.

Of course, there should be "deluxe dog house," "automatic water bowl filler," "doggie wash station," and "dog ramp to porch" options in the MLS. And for the more athletic dogs, "near park" or "near walking trails" should be added as well. I am sure there are other features that are important to your pup, so let me know if you think of something before I petition the MLS system to add this stuff. And, if you decide to "emBark" on a journey to find a new pet-friendly home, make sure your real estate agent owns a dog. That way you won't go barking up the wrong tree.

P​lease feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 2/1/16. ​Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012.

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Lakes Region vs. Coast of Maine

By Frank Roche, President Roche Realty Group

Last week, I met with a couple from the Greater Boston area. They're thinking of purchasing a second home and couldn't decide on the coast of Maine or the Lakes Region. So to help, I broke down some comparisons for them...
Coast of Maine
• Driving distance from Boston to Ogunquit: 1 hour 33 minutes
• Driving distance to Camden: 3 hours 21 minutes
• Choice of long sandy beaches or craggy rocky coastline
• Quaint coastal towns with Down East charm
• Extensive traffic up I-95 & Route 1
• Prime tourist season runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day
• Businesses have extended their operations to extend the season by two or three months with "off-season rates"
• Smell of salt air, scenic views of the coastline and fine, fresh seafood eateries attract a wide audience
• Lots of beach choices – York, Ogunquit, Old Orchard, Kennebunkport, Biddeford, Boothbay, Camden, Bar Harbor, etc.
• Saltwater beaches with surf, strong currents, colder water and tides to navigate
• Long stretches of beaches for walking and recreation
• Boating is difficult. Very few choices with direct boating access in front of your home
• Salt water and barnacles are corrosive to boats and outdrives
• Boating regulations and navigation are much more complicated on the ocean
• Ocean fog and cooler summertime temperatures are a factor
• Nearby summer attractions include The Marginal Way, Ogunquit Summer Playhouse, York Animal Kingdom, state parks, lighthouse tours, Funtown/Splashtown amusement park, Portland Museum of Art and so much more
• Winter attractions are very limited; many businesses & restaurants are closed for the winter; likewise many second home owners close their homes for the season

Lakes Region
• Driving distance from Boston to the Lakes Region: 1 hour 45 minutes
• Easy access to I-93
• There are 273 lakes, ponds and rivers within the Lakes Region.
• Crystal-clear fresh-water lakes offer great swimming, easy boating, fishing, water skiing and relaxation.
• Boat accessibility is a huge advantage on our lakes. Most towns have public launches and most homes and communities cater to the avid boater.
• The Lakes Region is a "Four Season Destination." This is really our biggest advantage over coastal living. When the summer season ends, autumn breezes in along with its beautiful foliage; perfect for sightseeing, hiking and so much more.
• The Lakes Region is surrounded by the Belknap, Ossipee and White Mountain ranges. Offering amazing hiking trails, scenic drives. The White Mountains along offer 48 4,000-footers!
• Winter season unfolds with numerous sporting activities – alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice climbing, winter hiking, ice fishing, pond hockey, sled dog racing and so much more
• Nearby attractions include The Bank of New Hampshire Music Pavilion, New Hampshire Motor Speedway (hosting two Nextel Cup races a year and many other venues), The Tanger Outlet Mall, numerous golf courses, The Winnipesaukee Playhouse, Interlakes Summer Theatre, Funspot (the largest arcade in the world), Gunstock Recreation Area (not just for skiing! Zip lines, aerial treetop adventures, tubing, cross-county skiing and snowshoeing, and new this year – FatTire bike riding across 32 miles of trails, and coming this summer a mountain coaster!)
• Choice of many scenic lakeside towns and villages. The town of Meredith is known for its Rotary Ice Fishing Derby, Gilford hosts the Ironman Triathlon at Ellacoya State Beach, Laconia is home to Laconia Motorcycle Week (the oldest motorcycle rally in the world) where people from all over the world come visit our great area and ride along our beautiful scenic roads and Laconia is also the new home of the Pumpkin Festival.
• There are numerous craft fairs, chowder fests, marathons, fishing derbies, boat and car shows throughout all our towns.

The choice between the two regions is certainly difficult. Both offer unlimited recreational and cultural opportunities. I tried my best to be unbiased. I really do love our neighboring coast, but the final decision comes down to year-round vs. seasonal living.
Personally, I prefer the four-season choice, and whenever I have the craving for fresh fried clams and that salty air, I just take a short drive to the ocean.

Please feel free to visit to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046.

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