What a Star

Above: Photo by Lucas Allen

That Martha Stewart has impeccable taste everybody knows, but it was confirmed when she (or, at least, her editors) selected The Rocks Estate in New Hampshire to feature (eight pages worth) in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living.

“We wanted to introduce our readers to all the Christmas trees available to them from all across the country and to address the experience of the Christmas tree farm,” says Andrew Beckman, the magazine’s gardening editor.

For the “ideal Christmas scene” experience, The Rocks is about as good as you can get — acres of perfectly-shaped trees for cutting, horse-drawn sleigh rides, carol sings around the fire — and, almost too good to be true, it’s all happening in the little town of Bethlehem.

What wasn’t so perfect was the lack of snow. The MSL crew, which had figured New Hampshire for sure would have snow before Christmas, had to wait until January for the flakes to fall. By then it was freezing cold — 22 below at one point. Beckman says, “I haven’t willingly stood in the cold for that long in I don’t know how many years.”

The Rocks only grows two kinds of trees — balsam and fraser firs — so eight other varieties were brought in from points south and west to stand against a barn for a photo. A primer on tree types is included in the story, which is called “Making the Cut.” For more information about Martha Stewart Living, visit www.marthastewart.com.

Spurred by Stewart

When Nigel Manley, manager of The Rocks Estate, learned that Martha Stewart Living was really going to do a story about the Christmas tree farm, he figured they’d better, uh, spruce up the Web site. “The people who read the story might be interested in buying a tree from us,” Manley says. The deed is done, and now shopping online (www.therocksestate.com/shop) is easier than ever.

You can get a fresh-cut tree shipped (balsams, $33-$51; frasers, $45-$55), along with wreaths (one was Best of Show at the 2006 Vermont Farm Show), garlands, ornaments and accessories like the adorable handmade “Stumpies.” Also offered is a Trees for Troops program, where you can buy, for $25, a tree for military personnel and their families. FedEx donates the shipping.

The Rocks (www.therocks.org) is a 1,400-acre protected reserve that serves as the North Country Conservation and Education Center for the non-profit Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The sale of trees raises money to support conservation in New Hampshire.

A Kick-Axe Getaway
Up for a cold, icy and exhilarating challenge?

Kim Reynolds started ice climbing 25 years ago, when women just didn’t do those sorts of things. Well, times have changed, and Reynolds is now “head chick” of Chicks with Picks, which each year runs ice-climbing clinics for women in the White Mountains. “In the mid to late ’90s I noticed more women were taking up the sport, yet they were holding back during this seemingly intimidating activity,” she says. “Thus the idea of Chicks with Picks was born.”

Reynolds, who also operates clinics in Colorado, says she wanted women to become safe, technically proficient, self-reliant ice climbers, who can overcome their fears and gain more self-confidence. She also “gives back” by fund-raising for local women’s shelters. Reynolds says Chicks with PIcks has become a “cult, where women return year after year to drink the Kool-Aid. They love the camaraderie, opportunity to network and find adventure partners.”

Women of all abilities can sign up, though it’s best to be in at least average shape. In New Hampshire this year, the North Conway-based clinics, led by “world-class female guides,” take place Feb. 14-17 for beginner to advanced and Feb. 18-20 for beginner to intermediate. For more information visit www.chickswithpicks.net.

Above: Photo by Anne Skidmore Photography

Season of Light

Come December you’ll see a menorah in front of the Statehouse. For those who put it there, the goal is to bring more light and warmth into the world.

Each year for the past 18, Rabbi Levi Krinsky and his helpers have set up a 13-foot menorah in front of the Statehouse to await the beginning of Chanukah, when the first of eight candles is lit. Each day another candle is added to those that are lit until all eight shine out in the dark of December. “The menorah is an inspirational object,” says Krinsky. “It has many lessons — right over might, good over evil. It teaches us to illuminate ourselves and our environment.”

Krinsky, who is regional director of the Jewish outreach organization Chabad Lubavitch of N.H., says because the Jewish calendar is different from the secular calendar Chanukah is at a different time each year — this year it starts Dec. 4. “When we light the menorah, we let people know the holiday has begun, especially people not familiar with our calendar. People seem to get a kick out of it.” To learn more about Chanukah, visit www.lubavitchnh.com/chanukah.

The rabbi also hopes people will get a kick out of the well-known mentalist, Marc Salem, the son of a rabbi, who will be performing at the Palace Theatre (www.palacetheatre.org) on Dec. 9, the sixth night of Chanukah. Ahead of the performance there will be a menorah lighting. It’s open to the public.

Street Smarts
A Quickie Guide to Derry

All along Rte. 102 (E. and W. Broadway) in Derry you can find everything from delicious baked goods to unique handmade gifts and even a classic diner.

This gallery of fine American crafts is a great place to shop for that person who has everything. Poles Apart (5 West Broadway) has handmade contemporary crafts that range from glasswork and jewelry to bags and martini glasses. There is seemingly no end to the variety of beautiful and playful items that decorate the walls and fill the shelves. www.polesapartgifts.com, (603) 432-7474.

At Le Beaderie (6 West Broadway #15) you’re greeted with wall-to-wall color and a friendly and helpful atmosphere. If you’re passionate about creating beautiful jewelry or just getting started, this is a great place to stock up on beads and Swarovski crystals. Visit the Web site, www.lebeaderie.com, for a complete list of products and a schedule for various classes. (603) 432-2700.

Duck into the Wisteria Flower Shoppe (16 East Broadway St.) for a beautiful arrangement and you’ll find much more than just flowers. This florist and gift shop has everything you need to put together a gift basket, including wines and New Hampshire-made salsas, jams, dipping oils, sauces and much more. www.wisteriaflowershoppe.com,
(603) 434-4600