Lyme NH's "Sea of Trees"
Leading to a Sea of Ice
Now in it's second year, Lyme, New Hampshire's quintessentially northern New England town common is sporting a sea of trees that seemingly popped up overnight. A few of them are decorated with holiday baubles, others stand naked, looking cold in the cool brisk Saturday air as I wandered by this past weekend.
What's going on, and why were a group of people out cavorting about on an area of the town's common just east of the trees, wandering around with measuring tapes and sledgehammers?
A Sea of Trees through with the camera lens captured some interesting people and activities this past Saturday on the Lyme (NH) Town Common.
This is the ongoing renaissance of the Lyme Town Common that seems to be the new trend in Lyme, and perhaps in other small towns. Where once existed a vibrant and lively place for people and livestock of all kinds, the once-proud town common of a hundred years past has fallen into disuse, with many town fathers and mothers preferring a green space that gets mowed weekly in the summer and sits idly in the winter. That's certainly not the case in Lyme now that the townspeople have made their voices heard.
Last March at Lyme's Town Meeting, a warrant article was put to the townspeople to vote on whether to level a small portion of the Town Common to encourage winter use of a skating area that had been ongoing for a few years. The problem was the area had a 16 inch drop over a 90 foot distance that defined the skating area and made a safe and smooth skating surface difficult to maintain. Once the Town voted in favor of the warrant, volunteers came to the fore.
Just a few weeks ago in early November, two local excavators pulled onto the Common with their heavy equipment and survey tools. A laser level was mounted on the back of a pickup truck to ensure a level surface was created before the bulldozer got going. This job was replete with pulling back the topsoil to save it for the eventual top skim coat, and trucking in many loads of sandy loam, then leveling, rolling, seeding, and haying. They turned a once tipsy piece of ground into a dead-level area that will soon accommodate a liner and a few inches of water waiting to freeze. Children and their parents are rejoicing knowing there will be a very local, central, and public place for winter fun before and after school, on weekends, and during school holiday breaks. Local businesses are also rejoicing because people come from far and wide to admire this little slice of Norman Rockwell-esque beauty in the dead of winter when pure joy can be seen and felt from kids and adults alike as they glide with glee across the glistening ice.
Lyme volunteers stand together on Saturday within the just-erected Skating on the Common area boards on the newly-leveled skating surface with a Sea of Trees as their backdrop.
It was here this past Saturday that a group of volunteers were setting up the boards to define the skating area space for Lyme's Skating on the Common. Led by Tony Pippin, Jr. of The Lyme Country Store and Pippin Construction, it took a bit under an hour to install 45 x 90 feet of boards that now await a liner, some water pumped in by The Lyme Volunteer Fire Department's tanker truck, and some freezing weather to, voila!, create what Mother Nature does so handily with water in winter here in New Hampshire - ice! Beautiful, lovely, slick-for-skating ice that Town volunteers shovel and flood periodically so everyone can enjoy a nice winter's skate. With it comes a few days of Skating on the Common Days including the Lyme Winter Olympics where children have won ribbons for skating around cones, skating backwards, and skating across long distances. These days are filled with great and festive activities when local business owners from Stella's Restaurant, The Lyme Inn, The Dowds' Country Inn and Event Center, The Lyme Country Store, Latham House Tavern, and Long River Gallery & Gifts fire up the grills and serve up dogs and burgers, hot chocolate, and baked goods that flow in like water from people all around town who love to bake!
And the "Sea of Trees" just to the west of the skating area? That's the Utility Club of Lyme's latest incarnation of a fundraiser in which people and businesses purchase a tree for a great cause, and either have it decorated or decorate it themselves for the annual Tree Festival on the Lyme Town Common. This year, the Festival takes place on Saturday, December 3 at 4:30 PM. It's great fun to wander around a large swath of green space and see how creative people can be with decorating and lighting trees. All monies raised go to the non-profit organization The Utility Club of Lyme which uses them to fund local projects and scholarships for local college-bound and college-age students. Of course, Lyme's three delightfully palette-pleasing restaurants will be open to make your trip to this small town complete with fare that ranges from Italian bistro goodness, to British-pub-style fare, to the tastes of meals you'd expect to find in a 5-star inn like The Lyme Inn.
By Saturday, December 3 at 4:30 PM, these three trees, along with another 75 or so, will be fully decorated on the Lyme Town Common and lit with an array of colors for your amazement as you wander into Lyme, NH.
So, if you're searching for something new to do this coming weekend, make the drive to Lyme, NH to have a look at the Sea of Trees all peering eastward to see whether the Sea of Ice has yet formed. If it has, you can skate even if you don't own a pair of ice skates thanks to the generosity of people who have donated plenty of different sizes of ice skates that are housed in The Lyme Country Store, sharpened and ready to borrow (for free!) for your next winter wonderland adventure!
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Dave Celone is not this extraordinary art show by Lyme painter Meg McLane now showing through the early winter months at the dining room of Stella's Italian Kitchen & Restaurant in Lyme. He's just a guy who likes to write about places in and around the Upper Valley/Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee region of NH and VT to highlight the miracle and beauty of this place we know as The Upper Valley.
Dave Celone is a freelance writer, poet, visual artist, art gallery curator, and consultant for the education industry. He co-manages Long River Gallery & Gifts in Lyme, NH with his wife Lisa where over 150 artists and artisans show their work. They have a new "pop-up" gallery now open at 49 South Main Street in White River Junction, VT, right next to The Junction Frame Shop. Dave is also principal of Advancement Consulting Services offering higher education institutions and private secondary schools global best practices and unique ways to increase alumni giving and involvement through programs that develop relationships and value holistically. His "virtuous circle" model on developing fundraising programs, and his belief in "treating students like alumnae/i and alumnae/i like students" have gained favor among development industry professionals and higher education leadership on multiple continents. Dave is former director of development at The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, and former co-executive director of the Dartmouth College Fund. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.