It’s obviously no secret to anyone who’s ever met me that I’m in love with my home city of Portsmouth, NH. Heck, my LinkedIn profile has long listed my occupation as “Portsmouth Enthusiast.” I lived in Hawai’i for four years, and my answer to “why would you ever leave Hawai’i?!” is always, “Portsmouth is better”—yes, better than “paradise.” Portsmouth has a magic that no other city in the world has.
Here are some of my favorite things about Portsmouth:
Yup, you heard me, rocks. NH is the “Granite State,” stone walls about all over the area, brick buildings are an icon of Portsmouth, and my own home stands on what was once a brick factory. While gardening, I occasionally pull out another brick, having wriggled its way to the surface from far below my tomato plants, basil shrub, mint maze, and hydrangea bushes. There is something very grounding about the prominence of stones in our culture—something permanent and reassuring. One of the reasons many locals, myself included, have a proclivity for cemeteries is the unique stone markers—engraved with a very period font, more handmade and cruder the farther back they date, the headstones are so special that feeling the grooves of sentiments carved decades and centuries ago far overrides any spookiness that a more modern, polished cemetery might posses.
Be it coffee or beer, the drinking culture of Portsmouth is prevalent throughout the diverse population.
Some people classify other cityfolk by the cafe they frequent: “Oh, you’re a Kilim person?” “You go to BNG a lot, right?” “No wonder I never see you, I get my coffee at Vonsolln!” or “You go to Starbucks?” This usually ensues in a conversation on the various qualities of roasts, the friendliness toward laptop users (who deliberately covers up outlets vs. who is thrilled to give you the wifi password?), and the stellar quality of baristas.
The other beverage culture is the beer culture in Portsmouth. Two breweries call Portsmouth home, and at least as of 2008/2009, it had the most bars per capita in the country—and certainly still holds that rank in the state. Here, also, is a chance to pick your personality when it comes to beverage venue. Looking for a great brew selection and laid-back atmosphere, maybe a seat by a fire? Head to the Coat. Want to watch some live jazz? Head to the Press Room. Want to watch the tugs go by? OFL it is! Wait, too many tourists on the decks? Time to hit Harpoon’s. And all roads lead to the D street, which serves just a little bit later than the other bars and always has some wonderfully awful/great karaoke going on when you’ve had enough to sing in front of a crowd.
Portsmouth folk are engaged folk. Everyone here reads the paper. Everyone knows what is going on politically, both nationally and at a hyper-local level. A recent kerfuffle over zoning ordinances at a Board of Adjustment meeting recently had the entire city abuzz, and many letters to the editor were written, opining one way or the other on Board of Adjustment’s behavior and remarks. Anywhere you go in Portsmouth, you can find a common issue to discuss with a perfect stranger. And as a prominent city in the State of the First in the Nation presidential primaries, most of us have met most of the presidential candidates our whole lives. We pay attention, we care, we express our opinions, and generally people are quite civil about disagreements. It’s as though there is a undercurrent of respect for everyone who simply keeps informed, regardless of their conclusions.
This is unique to Portsmouth, and something that I missed in all the other cities and towns I lived before rushing back to the best city in the world.
I could (and likely will) go on and on and on about Portsmouth- read my previous blog post to hear more of my favorite things about this great city. For now, these three things will serve as my three reasons to bring MozCation to Portsmouth.
These are my reasons—what are YOURS?