Francis Bacon said, “The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express.” I try to make it a habit to slow down and unplug. I find myself sitting somewhere and just enjoying the beauty that my part of the world has to offer. I do this to calm my body and soul and to demonstrate to our boys the need to stop and take in life as often as possible – because we never know where it will lead us.
I have found myself pondering life – and its fragility and beauty – more often than usual the last couple of weeks because we have been dealing with serious illnesses and the passing of people both personally and professionally. It is times like these that people sit back and ponder things – or do so more than usual.
As I read and write about Manchester and go through various photos of the city and of New Hampshire, the realization of something I’ve always known came to me – that Manchester and New Hampshire are beautiful places to be. Going through the hustle and bustle of our daily lives may cause us to miss the simple truth that we are incredibly blessed to be in an area that is so majestic. We of course have their history and influence, but even more so we have their beauty; their sheer brilliance of awe-inspiring scenery, both natural and architectural. It’s “God’s paintbrush” or “God’s country” as some would say.
Manchester doesn’t have the urban hustle and bustle of larger, more urbanized areas such as Providence or Boston, but it is still urban – and life can be hectic no matter where we are. Sitting on a bench downtown may not inspire us to ponder beauty, especially when we are busy doing something on our devices, but maybe it should. Maybe we should look up at the architecture of the older buildings in Downtown and think about the design, the people of that era, the history, what we can learn from it all – and how simply awesome it is! When looking at the older buildings, I’m often reminded of the amazing history of our city – the little city that wouldn’t die – and think about its roots and how it was modeled after Manchester, England. I then see how the buildings and the city’s layout are similar to our “sister” across the pond.
On the subject of buildings, Downtown isn’t the only area of our city that has architectural beauty. There are buildings throughout Manchester that are beautiful and have architectural significance. These buildings include the main library; the Classical Building at Central High; the Mackin Building at West High; the older, still standing, school buildings such as Ash Street, Rimmon, and Brown; and old fire stations such as the former Station Two on Main Street that now houses the west side library and part of the Cashin Senior Activity Center. There are the Victorian houses of the North End and of course the beautifully restored mills – the buildings that put Manchester on the map.
Of course beauty isn’t found only in buildings but in nature itself, and Manchester has a lot of natural beauty and many areas in which to enjoy it.
Some of my favorite spots include any area of Derryfield Park where one can see over the neighborhood tree lines and view neighborhood rooftops and Downtown buildings while catching a glimpse of some mills. From the right vantage point I can also see St. Marie’s steeple standing proudly over the West Side while enjoying the backdrop of the Uncanoonuc Mountains in Goffstown. I also enjoy Wagner and Oak Parks up by the Currier as well as a nice walk along the Riverwalk, particularly in the area of the “Hands Across the Merrimack” bridge. I enjoy the view from atop Rock Rimmon and like to walk around the grassy backside.
The Riverwalk itself is a nice place to stroll and enjoy nature and view the city from an entirely different perspective. (I find that walking along the river allows me the opportunity to see the city from a vantage point that isn’t available via typical routes). Sitting on a boat in the middle of the Merrimack north of the falls is another great way to enjoy the stillness and wonder of nature. One can even boat under the I-93 bridge and not even hear the traffic driving over it.
Some other favorites include Stark Park and the trails around Dorrs Pond; the Pine Island Park trail; the South Manchester trail – especially as it approaches Nutts Pond; Piscataquog trail; and the trails at Massabesic Lake – and the gem of them all, Massabesic Lake itself. I enjoy just sitting by the lake enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds me.
Of course Manchester is but one community in an incredibly beautiful state. From the Seacoast to the western range and from the beautiful architecture and natural beauty of Nashua to Moose Alley in the Great North Woods – and the communities in between – the Granite State has more than its share of beauty and wonder.
We love driving Route 1A from Hampton to Portsmouth and continuing into Kittery, Maine, all the way through Portland and into Freeport. We also like going to the White Mountains and exploring areas such as Sabbaday Falls along the Kancamagus or exploring the area by driving along Route 16 as well as the back roads. We also enjoy taking Route 3 through the Lakes Region through Laconia and Meredith and into Ashland as we head to the mountains. We don’t head west as much as other parts of the state, but when we do we like to start in Concord and take Routes 202 and 9 into Keene and decide where to go from there – whether it be to Mount Monadnock, Lake Sunapee or anywhere between there and Manchester – or even south towards the Massachusetts border.
I hope that everyone takes some time this summer – or all year round – to be still and enjoy the beauty that surrounds them.
Feel free to share some of your favorite places to be still and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us in the comments section.
Before closing, I want to mention that the Riverwalk Beautification Alliance has been working hard to clean-up and improve the area. They are hosting a volunteer day at 9 a.m. this Saturday, July 25. The group is led by Robert Debrot and can be emailed at email@example.com. They are a great organization working to make the Riverwalk a great place for everyone to enjoy and would love your support!
About the author: Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who moved to Manchester from Raymond in 1980 at the age of 8. He attended Gossler Park Elementary, Parkside and Southside Junior High, and West High, from which he graduated in 1990. After attending Notre Dame College in Manchester, Brian completed his undergraduate degree at Rhode Island College in Providence. Brian and his wife Jackie then came to Manchester in 2004 and were involved in various outreach organizations. Their two boys were born in Manchester during this time. After his position was eliminated in 2009, Brian and his family returned to Rhode Island. They have been living in Providence since 2010. Brian and his family love Manchester and are planning on returning within the next few months. Brian is currently working at helping the city move forward by connecting with other stakeholders and becoming involved with like-minded groups. Brian is also laying the foundation for an organization that will help strengthen the city and help it move forward.
Brian holds a Bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College and a Master of Public Administration degree from Grand Canyon University. Brian currently works at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is also founder of a Facebook Group, Manchester Forward. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.