We searched for our Christmas tree early this year, going to our usual farm high above Bow Lake, only to find it reaching the end of its glorious life. We found a blue spruce: sparse, but tall and healthy. Yet, we decided we needed to keep looking.
That following week, the week after Thanksgiving, I drove through nearby New Hampshire towns, hoping I might find a traditional Balsam Fir. I followed signs–flat green cut-outs of trees–to Walker’s Green Trees in Madbury, NH. Turning onto Perkins Road, I passed a farm house and then a field of pine trees spread before me.
I pulled into the driveway and parked next to the only other car, which I figured belonged to the owner of the farm. For a half hour, I wandered undisturbed through the trees, seeing two Balsams over there perfect for our home, five over here, another far across a soon-to-be-planted field. Signs warned to step carefully over fox holes. The smell of pine, the bristle of branches against my hand, the warm sunshine, all filled me with a sense of tranquility.
As I returned to my car, knowing this was where we’d find our tree, a woman stepped from the house and introduced herself as Melissa Walker. She shared how she and her husband, Ian, had decided years ago, rather than sell their farmland, to transform it from the working farm it had been, to a Christmas tree farm. Every year in the spring, friends and family devote a weekend to planting new saplings, an event so enjoyed, it has been documented in other blogs through the years. When her husband passed away several years back, his grandson, Ian, took over management of the farm, and now the tradition of tree planting and nurturing continues.
Then I commented on the sculptures in her driveway, the tall, stone-carved bird houses, and especially the lovely stone monument next to her barn. She said that Gary Haven Smith, of Northwood, NH, had been a student of her husband’s. She had commissioned him to create the monument in memory of her husband. Gary and her grandson, created this work of art together.
It was an honor to see work by this talented artist up close. Many years back, on a visit to the Glencliff Home for the Elderly, a nursing home sheltered by the White Mountains, I was awed by the chapel’s stained glass panels created by his wife, Susan Pratt-Smith.
This past October, Mr. Smith passed away, leaving behind a mourning community; Not just because he was a notable artist, but because he was a real neighbor: a friendly face in a small town, as is his wife and son.
I mention all of this, because it is the reason why I love this State of New Hampshire. Wherever I go, there are threads that connect all of us; circles filled with the people we care about, the people we remember, the people who make this State great.
That brisk December day, I went to purchase a Christmas tree, and instead was given an unforgettable moment in time.