My FitBit haunts me. As though I had no memory of Upper Valley winters, this year’s resolution was to meet my daily goal of several thousand steps each day. Two weeks in January of moseying along a Florida beach every morning and evening seemed hardly an accomplishment; it was simply too easy. Then I came back to the Upper Valley. A concerned neighbor had warned me about the state of our steep and icy driveway. “Make sure to pull right into the garage,” she had emailed. The risk involved in walking the 15 feet from our usual parking spot to the front door would be monumental and only a fool would try it, much less in the dark.
And for the past month it has been ever thus. Or worse.
The street at the driveway’s end is a weird mix of ice, snow and early frost heaves. So we drive to “urban” centers. Sidewalks, particularly in Hanover, lurch from bare and bone dry to wickedly glazed, occasionally sloping toward icy pools waiting to claim the next victim. Sometimes it’s below zero and windy; yesterday it was 17 degrees at noon, and I mostly hate to wear hats. Today it was a balmy and welcomed 30 degrees. Then as we began our day’s walk, it started to sputter freezing rain.
A picture of repose in the Hanover Inn
Our go-to survival skill has been to browse the art as we walk through the halls of DHMC, but we are longing for variety. This has led to a half-baked strategy that involves risking the sidewalks for short distances and using all open buildings as warming huts. It’s like interval training: sprint outdoors (carefully), then stroll indoors. Repeat. It is not the ideal workout, but in mid-February, it’s the best we can do.
The Hopkins Center has great indoor scenery. We like the Hop’s small galleries but on this day they were closed. No matter. You can peek into the wonders of the Scene Room. I know I saw that red cafe table and chairs on the set of Dartmouth’s recent production of Cabaret.
Like many, I miss the Hood Museum gift shop. Its former site now houses a replica of the new museum that is soaring toward completion just outside, and you can snag a brochure about the Hood’s public art, which could just lead you across the quad to the Orozco murals in Baker Library. We haunt those halls, too, and glance in again at that lovely Sherman Art Library, where I hope to install myself and read art magazines on some really foul-weathered afternoon.
Outside to some frigid stairs and then to the Black Family Arts Center. Even the lobby (above) is fun. In the recent past its walls were filled with photos of clever murals by Jerry Rosembert Moise, like this:
By Haitian graffiti artist, Jerry Rosembert Moise
On this trip, the gallery next to the Loew’s Theater featured an exhibition of student photography.
Works by Amanda Winch, left , and Ian Marx, right.
And sometimes you just need to see not Dartmouth green, but the real thing. You could brave the elements to Dartmouth’s Life Sciences Building and hop the elevator to the top floor, where an incomparably charming greenhouse awaits. We had other business, so we jumped back into the pickup and drove to Gardener’s Supply (formerly Longacres) on Mechanic Street in Lebanon, newly opened. We strolled the aisles, and ended up among the orchids, in a climate that for a few moments made the icy UV disappear. Almost.
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