Romancing the Granite

What’s the most romantic place in New Hampshire? Here in the official month of love (though I wonder what, besides Valentine’s Day, is so romantic about February) it seems like a good question to ponder. The editors of USA Today had this question in mind just as this issue was going to press and were asking around for picks from each state. The Department of Travel and Tourism directed them to me. After all, as editor of the state’s main journal of life and love of all things granitic, who would know better than I? Naturally, I turned around and asked some of the women in the office. Two of my co-workers quickly said, “Jackson.” Hard to argue with that. The town of Jackson is a sweet little community of B&Bs and stone bridges, and it’s the home of Nestlenook Farm, which not only is a classic picture of romanticized New England, the very name even sounds rather, um, romantic. “How about that hot tub in the tower at the Mountain View Grand Hotel?” suggested another female associate. The idea of soaking in an Asian-style bath while gazing at the 4,000-foot peaks of the Presidential Range would certainly rank high on the list of dramatic ways to impress a date. And the red-curtained “proposal table” at the ever-romantic Bedford Village Inn was suggested by another. To cover both the yin and the yang of romance, I inquired at my favorite community blog,, where lots of opinionated guys as well as gals hang out, just waiting for a chance to opine. One such guy, science writer David Brooks who is alpha-blogger at his own “Granite Geek” site, offered the following romantic spots: Next-to-last row on the right side (away from the air conditioner) in the main screening room of the Wilton Town Hall Theater on a hot August night, preferably during a Three Stooges short. Either that, or the top bunk next to the exterior wall in Room 4 of AMC's Mizpah Hut, about an hour after lights out; unless there's a real snorer in one of the other bunks, that is. OK. So, back to the women, and Janice Brown, who keeps the excellent Cow Hampshire blog, had a doozy of a suggestion. Turns out that when actress Bette Davis lived in Sugar Hill she got lost in the woods and was rescued by a man named Arthur Farnsworth. She was so swept away that she married him. There’s a plaque that marks the romantic spot on Coppermine Brook where he found her. But one final response on the blog resonated with special authority: I pick the formal gardens and sculpture gallery, with its grape arbor and glorious hollyhocks, at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish. I'll never forget discovering the contents of each hedged garden, even discovering that one could hide inside some of the hedges! But the brilliance of the summer flowers, the skies and the addition of beautiful sculpture make this one my Grand Prize Winner for Romance. — The words of my own wife of 21 years. Here in the official month of love, how could I disagree?
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