Singing for Spring

Featured Shop – Duncraft • ConcordAccording to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the purple finch is the bird that Roger Tory Peterson famously described as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” While his description may be accurate, the purple finch holds a special place in the heart of most Granite Staters. Fifty-three years ago this month, the purple finch became the official state bird. Bonny Bartlett, assistant manger of retail at Duncraft, 102 Fisherville Rd., Concord, says the plump little bird isn’t hard to please. If I wanted to attract some purple finches to my back yard, what would I need to do? Oh they just love black-oil sunflower seeds. They like the hearts, too, (for people who don’t like to have a lot of shells in their gardens) and they also like thistle. Remember to give them water. You’ll get more birds with a birdbath. What about a birdhouse? I know Duncraft specializes in wild birds, feeding and care, but do birds really use birdhouses? If you put one up, they will come. Almost all birds like to be in birdhouses, especially for reproducing. They like to build nests in the houses so they can have their babies. Reproducing? You’re not saying they need privacy, are you? No, just when they are ready to lay their eggs. What other birds might be coming around now? All the beautiful song birds are beginning to come back and April is the perfect time to get ready. You should start to see cedar waxwings, chickadees, tufted titmice, robins and even hummingbirds. Hummingbirds? Already? For small little birds, they are mighty and they come back every year to the same spot. Right about now is when they return from Mexico, Arizona or California. When they show up you better be ready. If I don’t have my food out in time, they will flutter outside my window and pester me. I have the same ones returning each year.So What's New?Tickled PinkPolkadots Gift Boutique, 874 Main St., Contoocook, is like diving into a box of Crayola crayons — there is color and fun in every corner. Yummy mini pots of juicy lip gloss (from London!) look like cupcakes, whimsical key chains for BFFs and mini-solar robotic building kits for kids 10 and older are just a few items to put on your must-have list. Adorable Portuguese explorers’ sweaters for toddlers are “oh so chic” for generous Grannies. The hand tattoo kits for youngsters will truly tickle your funny bone. No need to gift wrap, nice store bags with polka dot tissue paper make the perfect presentation. See Polkadots Gift Boutique on Facebook or (603) 746-DOTS.Hitting the PavementRunner’s Alley, 4 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, is gearing up for its first spring track season after moving into town in October. Look for sprinting and distance spikes, throw shoes and multi-event shoes. Runners of all skill levels know Runner’s Alley for their personal service and sage advice. No shoe snobs allowed — fitting the foot for running is serious business. “People will ask, ‘What’s the best brand?’ and we say we think they all are,” says store associate Joanna Mitchell. “We want customers to try on all the brands and find the shoe that fits the foot the best.” All shoes can go for a clean sprint before heading out the door. See or call (603) 598-1500. Locations in Portsmouth and Manchester, too.Jingle As They DangleThe Gallery at Ripple Pottery, 839 Rte. 25, Rumney, is the place to forage for mushrooms. Hugely popular in gardens across the country, artist Brian O’Hare’s ’shrooms are delightful high-fired ceramic garden accents. “The ceramic cap actually sits on the stem so when the wind blows, the caps sway against each other and the stems, which creates the chimes,” says O’Hare’s wife Adar, who runs the gallery. Popular colors this year are ripple blue, red and blue green. Sets of three start at $38. Other popular gallery items include bowls, mugs and ikebanas in a variety of color and sizes. For more information or call (603) 786-9085.Let it RainApril showers are welcome at Long View Country Store, Rte. 3, Meredith, where customers can spend hours inside strolling through this rambling, authentic, old-fashioned country store between Meredith and Weirs Beach. Penny candy, metal lunch boxes, soaps, outdoor toys, cookbooks, lamps, kitchenware, cheddar cheeses and pickles are just some of the many treasures you’ll find to amuse yourself. A large barn full of used items and furniture makes for some great finds for summer cottages. “People come in and stay two hours,” says Pat Simon, who with her husband Bill weighs all the candy behind the long wooden countertop. So old-fashioned and authentic, there’s no Web site! For information call (603) 279-3021.
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