Portsmouth, NH -- August 28 & 29 2007

Sometimes life just falls fabulously into place.

Though I had expected to have to hunt for readers here in Portsmouth, population twenty-something thousand without much of a public transportation system, I hit gold while walking down Pleasant Street, which was rightfully named. Though others might laud the historic quaintness and port positioning as attributes owing to its pleasantness, I credit the pleasantness to people reading--at the Breaking New Grounds cafe, at almost every table, if there was a cup of coffee there was a book, the pages flipping easily in the balmy evening calm. It was like arriving in paradise. Like my experience in Madison, Wisconsin, I felt like I'd happened upon the Disneyland of reading. Boston and Cambridge, where I was earlier in the day, were like that, too, but here, I hadn't expected it and was pleasantly surprised.

When the bus entered Portsmouth and I could see the town's historic cuteness, I'd tempered my enthusiasm, bracing myself to talk to tourists reading guidebooks, but, because of school starting, every single person I talked to was a local and a devout spokesperson for the town. Go Portsmouth!

True, there was no where in town to stay that didn't cost three hundred dollars unless you really look for it. I recommend the Strawberry Inn. It was still a little pricey,

but, though I might have spent a fortune for my canopied bed, I made up with it with dinner--$2 appetizers at Fat Belly's happy hour.

If I'd really wanted to I could have just walked across the bridge to Kittery to interview Mainers, but it seemed like that would be cheating. Maine was not going to get crossed off that easily.

I spent the evening, when the readers had retreated to bedrooms and living rooms, wandering around town and, though I had really intended on going to bed by 9pm, I became transfixed by the music of a dulcimer player who serenaded the streets with an Adagio Spanish melody and Tchaikovsky. He was amazing and, testament that practice makes perfect--he said it was his 76th day straight.

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