• Joe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #100: Merrymeeting Lake, New Durham


Shangri-La

Celebrating 100 entries in the series with one of the most important places in all of New Hampshire. It hasn't been part of our family for the longest - my parents only acquired the Merrymeeting Lake property in 1999 - but it's rapidly become a fundamental thread in the fabric of our lives. It's the cleanest lake in New Hampshire, and one of the quietest, lingering unobtrusively off Route 11 in New Durham, south and east of bigger, busier cousin Winnipesaukee.


The house itself perches on the western edge of Sawtooth Cove, with a perfect view of rising suns and moons, kissed by the gentle waves that invite swimmers, boaters, and fishermen to venture out onto and into its sapphire embrace. This is where we go to relax, to unwind, to be together as family and friends in a place of comfort and joy. Our folks have put a ton of effort and treasure into making the place a jewel, with a sandy little beach for the kiddos, a panoramic porch for morning meditations, and an epic fire pit for second-to-none grilling and chilling needs. It's an escape, a perfect retreat where we eat and drink too much, sleep almost enough, and burnish the bonds of family. Where the kids learn to swim and paddle kayaks and eat lobster, where friends come to renew ties, and where the workaday world melts away. Sure, the hilly road makes for brutal morning runs, and the sunfish nibble your toes in the shallows, and the occasional new neighbor from Massachusetts is too loud and smug. But none of that puts the slightest dent in the bulletproof awesomeness of the place. As much as I'm a creature of the seacoast, and Exeter and Stratham and Portsmouth are my ancestral homeland, I'm never happier than on the dock at Merrymeeting, sausages over the coals, bourbon in the glass, and loved ones at hand. I can write there like nowhere else, laugh and swap stories and just be.


In all honesty, there is nowhere on this green Earth I'd rather be. Everything is better at the lake.

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