To approach you by water is to know you.
It is literally thousands of times that I’ve come and gone from Kittery and Portsmouth. Normally by car, and normally unceremoniously, the roads there are conduits that have brought me to friends’ houses, parties, work and the same old pubs I’ve been frequenting since my early 20s. By walking to the market and other places, I was able to see the town in a new light. I was also able to feel the absence of the Memorial Bridge in a big way, not just for the inconvenience of having to take a shuttle rather than walk, but literally when we were in the harbor on the boat there was a big hole in the landscape.
To enter the harbor, fearing but using its current to my advantage, seeing the Whaleback Light from the water rather than from the state park, and using navigational buoys that have been bobbing there despite my previous acknowledgement of them- these were new surprises in an old place.
The Naval prison.
The highlight of our week in Portsmouth was the extreme generosity of our hosts, friends who offered us a mooring, then a dock, then their amazing outdoor shower, their laundry machines, and even some harvest from their garden. For the first time ever, Mimi Rose was using shore power, and so we were doing really nutty things like turning on two lightbulbs at the same time. POSH! This is the hospitality we’ve found an abundance of when we meet boat people. We pay it forward in kind, too.
Colin enjoying the shower:
Our great space on the dock!
Because of our time at the dock and the ease with which we could come and go from the boat, many of my friends and family were finally able to see where I live. I’ve been about 4 hours away by car for the last year or so, and while pictures of the boat on the internet are all well and good, I think everyone finally got a sense of the sort of adventure we’re embarking on when they saw Mimi Rose in person. Eight tons of reasonable comfort, enforced simplicity and beautiful woodwork. That tells you something, or at least, puts it in perspective.
Breana making us food.
Josephine and Colin during a shindig.
Lori and Patrick on a daysail with us.
Me and my dearest Erin.
Things to Pass On to My Fellow Seacoasters
I would suggest that my friends put their shoes to pavement as soon as they can and see this joint for what it really is. I hope they walk around and take a good look at the monuments they normally fly by. I read bronze plaques that commemorated random but formative events for the seacoast. They’re fascinating. They’re treasure.
I would also suggest, after having beautiful garden-grown food, that everyone take advantage of the small pieces of land they have and share the bounty. Were I still there, I think I’d be coordinating with my neighbors to grow particular things and to pitch in on seed costs for a whole other group of crops in my neighbors’ or friends’ gardens. In other words, there are so many great people in your area who love to socialize and eat, I think all y’all should have co-ops.
Things to Pass On to Visitors of Portsmouth
The currents in the Piscataqua River are intense. The fear of them is driven into the kids who grow up there, as many inexperienced boaters and unwitting swimmers have been washed out to sea or carried up the river in dangerous situations. Your awareness of it and respect for it is all you need. Your wise decisions will make your visit there pleasant. Here’s a video about tucking into the edges of the river and using eddies to your advantage:
I strongly suggest a visit to a few of my favorite places. The Black Birch in Kittery, The Portsmouth Brewery, The Press Room, and The Coat of Arms are all great places for food and drink. The staff are friendly, the atmosphere in each place is distinctively local. Tell them Anne sent you. Oh, and at The Black Birch, you should just order ALL THE DESERTS like we did.
Be sure to see the cemeteries around town. There’s a lot of history to be had there, and it’s free entertainment. Consider them outdoor museums and art galleries- at their heart they’re a little of both and I’m proud to say that there are beautiful, rare examples of carvings.
I suppose I’ve missed something. Any questions about Portsmouth? Do let me know.
You could just really look at this picture of my dad mixing me a Mai Tai aboard the boat I live on, and maybe if you think of all that, the loveliness of it, then you’ll have just a taste of the great social and decisive coincidences of my life culminating into this most fantastic week. Cheers!