Sean Hurley

North Country Reporter

Sean Hurley lives in Thornton with his wife Lois and his son Sam.  An award-winning playwright and radio journalist, his fictional “Atoms, Motion & the Void” podcast has aired nationally on NPR and Sirius & XM Satellite radio.  When he isn't writing stories or performing on stage, he likes to run in the White Mountains. He can be reached at shurley@nhpr.org. 

Loon Mountain

With only 6 to 8 inches of fresh powder, most New Hampshire ski areas aren't exactly reeling from the storm.  But even a little snow can bring skiers to the mountains.

Greg Kwasnik, marketing director at Loon Mountain is expecting a surge of skiers.

Up here we didn't have such a huge impact that people had in Southern New Hampshire so I think a lot of people will shovel their driveways and then get up here.  They might get here a little later than they anticipated but I think we'll see some strong business today.

Sean Hurley

Utah has one.  Colorado does too.  And now New Hampshire has its very own Ice Castle open to the public at Loon Mountain.  It's taken Mother Nature and 20 workers about a month to turn tons of homemade icicles into a glacial maze of frozen caverns and clear blue coliseums.  NHPR's Sean Hurley recently took a tour of the nearly completed castle and sends us this report.

Sean Hurley

For the last 3 years, NHPR's Sean Hurley and his family get a $5 permit to cut down their Christmas Tree in the White Mountain National Forest and every year, as Sean explains in this audio postcard, they run into the same problem. 

We walk beside an ice snagged brook looking for the balsam fir we tagged with a purple ribbon the month before.  My wife Lois leads us along, interpreting the wildlife signs as we go.

Sherwin Sleeves

Christmas songs can quickly puncture the spirit of the season with deep rancor. NHPR’s Sean Hurley found this out for himself, when he decided to compose a new Christmas carol. Sean's song, “The Christmas La La Song” was picked up by Sirius XM shock jocks Opie and Anthony. We’ll let Sean pick it up from there. And a reminder that these are the kind of radio personalities that love to inflame…

The Composer Next Door

Dec 17, 2013
Sean Hurley

USA Today recently published a list of the fastest growing professions in the United States.  Music Composer came in at #3.  Everything, in this digital age, needs music.  With advances in technology, today's orchestras are more often found on hard drives in basements than symphony hall. NHPR's Sean Hurley has this profile of music professor and film composer Rik Pfenninger of Holderness.

It's 3:30 AM in Holderness and Plymouth State University Professor of Saxophone Rik Pfenninger is practicing in the soundproofed basement of his house. 

Sean Hurley for NHPR

What happens when a veritable Grinch is confronted by unbridled Christmas spirit? Last year we sent favorite contributor Sean Hurley to visit a town Time Magazine dubbed one of America's "most Christmassy":

Is there a better place to celebrate Christmas than Vermont, where the air has a fragrance of pine needles and the ground is (most likely) dusted with snow? For the past 25 years, Woodstock has hosted Wassail Weekend, a pre-Christmas festival that is rooted in 19th century Norse culture and traditions. While the city itself is a sight to see during the holiday season, Wassail Weekend brings a distinctive parade of more than 50 horses and riders adorned in holiday costumes and period dress, as well as wagon and sleigh rides, a wassail feast and tours of the city's most notable historic buildings ... It's everything you imagine Christmas to be, but so much more. -Time Magazine

He was, perhaps, a bit of a Scrooge about it.

Bruce Lyndes / Plymouth State University

Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died November 12th, was remembered yesterday at  a Memorial Service held at Plymouth State University.  Dignitaries large and small gathered together with Burton's friends and family to remember the longtime political face of the North Country.  NHPR's Sean Hurley attended the event and sends us this report.

Lois Hurley

Most of us here in New Hampshire saw our first snowflakes of the year this week.  It's a gentle reminder that winter is on its way.  On this holiday that for many of us kicks off a frenzied season of shopping and parties, NHPR's Sean Hurley pauses to reflect on what it means as winter rolls in.

Winter comes in like a winter coat. Down from the storage closet to hang in the dark front hall to wait by the door. 

Sean Hurley / NHPR

On September 28, 1863, Sarah Josepha Hale of Newport, New Hampshire, wrote a letter to President Lincoln.  The author of Mary Had A Little Lamb and one of America’s first female novelists wrote, "The subject is to have the day of our annual thanksgiving made a national holiday."  Lincoln, a great observer of the wisdom of others, quickly agreed and in 1863 Thanksgiving became our third national holiday alongside Washington’s birthday and Independence Day. 

NHPR’s Sean Hurley set out to discover what Thanksgiving was really like during Sarah Josepha Hale's time. His tack: participating in a 19th century re-creation at the Remick Country Doctor Museum.

Keene State College

Acworth poet Alice Fogel has been named New Hampshire’s next poet laureate.

The Executive Council approved Governor Maggie Hassan’s nomination at a meeting Wednesday.

Alice Fogel was selected from a group of 17 poets nominated for the distinction.

Kyle Potvin of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, one of the groups that coordinated the nomination process, says Fogel’s literary reputation made her an ideal candidate.

Sean Hurley

When poet Robert Frost returned to New Hampshire from England in 1915 he moved his family into a small farmhouse in Franconia.  Since 1976, when the town of Franconia purchased the property, The Frost Place has provided a glimpse at the poet's life from a hundred years ago.  His old chair sits near his old desk near his old wallpaper.

Frost Place Director Maudelle Driskell says volunteer Dee Macoun was emptying the contents of a small closet during a routine clean up when she noticed something unusual about the large slab of wood supporting a shelf. 

Sean Hurley

It was 1918 when the Red Sox last did it.   And they did it again last night, winning the World Series in front of a hometown crowd, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1.  Here in New Hampshire, the reaction was swift and loud, as Sean Hurley reports. 

Jeff Chapel from Thornton watches the game at his hometown bar, the Woodpecker Pub. It's only the 6th inning, but he's ready for his World Series pilgrimage.

Sean Hurley

Abigail Hernandez has now been missing for 19 days.  Although thousands of acres have been combed and hundreds of tips have been followed, both the FBI and local police still don't know what happened between 3 and 4 in the afternoon on October 9th when Abby disappeared.  Despite this, the Hernandez family and the local community remain hopeful. On Saturday night nearly 500 people attended a flashlight vigil in Schouler Park in downtown North Conway meant to light the way home for Abby.  Sean Hurley was there and has this report. 

Sean Hurley

New Hampshire will soon have a new poet laureate. W.E. "Walter" Butts held that post until he died earlier this year.

Butts lived with his wife, the poet S Stephanie, in a small house on a quiet side street in Manchester.  

We shared all our work together, you know like I would write a poem and bring it up to him and he would write a poem and bring it to me.  We were always critiquing each other's work, supporting each other's work.

Don Pettit

NASA’s Don Pettit has been back from his last mission aboard the International Space Station for over a year, but his blog “Letters to Earth” remains one of the most fascinating and profound windows into the creative and emotional life of an astronaut.  While in space he penned and published poetry, An Astronaut’s Guide to Space Etiquette, and the series, “Diary of a Space Zucchini”, which detailed life on the ISS from the unusual perspective of a se

Sean Hurley

In 2006, Plymouth resident and PSU Music Professor Jonathan Santore was named New Hampshire Composer of the year.  Just last month, he was awarded The American Prize in Choral Composition for 2013. As he tells NHPR's Sean Hurley, he's come a long way since playing trumpet for his high school marching band in Tennessee. 

French composer Erik Satie once remarked, "Before I write a piece, I walk around it several times, accompanied by myself,"  It's a creative prelude that Plymouth composer Jonathan Santore finds absolutely necessary.

Sean Hurley

They eat your crops, they scold you from the treetops, they prey on songbirds.  Experts consider the crow, which can use tools and recognize human faces, one of the smartest birds.  And while many people don’t know it, crows are also hunted in NH.

Sean Hurley

Ringing with cannon fire and musket shots, the fields at the base of Mount Washington became a colonial encampment for dozens of reenactors at this weekend's "Muster in the Mountains".  As NHPR's Sean Hurley reports, French and Indian War militia men camped beside Revolutionary War "sutlers" and all of them hung out with the trappers and mountain men in this time traveling rendez-vous for 18th and 19th century roleplayers.

John Maxon, in French and Indian war era period garb describes the anachronistic scene playing out in the field behind him.

Sam T via flickr Creative Commons

Robert Frost recited "The Gift Outright" at John F. Kennedy's swearing in in 1961 and became the first ever Inaugural Poet.  Since then,  there have been only 4 others asked to honor the occasion with a poem.  With “One Today” Richard Blanco (pronounced Blonko) became the first immigrant, the first Latino, the first openly gay person - as well as the youngest - to write a poem for the transfer of power.  Fitting then that Blanco should be invited to read at Frost Farm in Derry, home of the nation’s first Inaugural Poet.

Sean Hurley

Governor Hassan stopped by the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery in North Woodstock to sample the microbrew and ceremonially sign into law HB 253 allowing nanobreweries to serve beer to their customers.  Sean Hurley was there and sends us this report.

Before Governor Hassan cracked open a celebratory bottle of beer, she did a bit of governing, signing into law House Bill 253.

I am very very proud to support this important sector of our economy by signing both these bills, so how about we go do that?

Sean Hurley

Copper Cannon Camp is tucked away in Franconia Notch on 128 acres of White Mountain National Forest.  In some ways a typical overnight camp with sing-a-longs at night and archery during the day, Copper Cannon is unusual in one respect.  As Sean Hurley reports, it's one of only a handful of co-ed camps in the country that's absolutely free for kids of low income families. 

I'm only at Copper Cannon Camp for 30 seconds when Zach and Rob, two eleven year old boys, spot my recorder and come racing over.

The People's Forest

Jul 15, 2013
David Huntley

“The People’s Forest” a new film about the White Mountain National Forest by filmmaker David Huntley premieres next Tuesday. The 48 minute documentary examines a dramatic period in the life of New Hampshire’s great woods from 1860 to 1910 and shows how the human forces that conspired to nearly destroy the land came together again to save it.  Sean Hurley spoke with the filmmaker and has this story.  

Sean Hurley

There’s buried treasure in the rivers and streams of New Hampshire.  22 carat gold to be precise. While it’s very high quality, it’s also very low quantity.  Experienced New Hampshire prospectors say that even though there isn’t much to find, it’s not hard to find.  But you have to know where to look and how to find it as Sean Hurley reports from the gold-speckled Wild Amonoosuc River in Bath. 

The Wild Ammonoosuc River trickles to life in Kinsman Notch and rushes for 15 miles from Woodstock to Bath before breaking into the bigger, slower glass of the Ammonoosuc.  

Sean Hurley

The people of Littleton New Hampshire celebrated Pollyanna Glad Day this past Saturday. The June 8th event also marked the publishing Centennial of the bestselling children’s classic about the little girl who always looks on the bright side. While a dubious meaning shadows the character name in popular culture, Sean Hurley reports that the residents of Littleton believe they know the real Pollyanna.  A hundred people opened and closed their umbrellas in the rain and shine that came and went throughout Pollyanna Glad Day.

The Unusual Ascenders

May 31, 2013
Sean Hurley

The 3rd Annual Alton Weagle Unusual Ascent Day took place this past Monday on Mount Washington.  With fresh snow closing the summit, participants still gathered at the base of the Auto Road to walk, ran, paddle and roll their way to the snowline.  As NHPR’s Sean Hurley reports, it’s an event that blends the difficult with the whimsical. 

75 year old Otok Ben-Hvar stares at the white powder top of Mount Washington. He’s about to go rolling along the Auto Road in a shambling contraption of five inner tubes.  

Sean Hurley

Animals have long played a part in human therapy and healing; from dogs trained to assist the disabled, to all manner of animals making visits to hospitals and nursing homes. For one Vermont woman, it’s a horse that’s helped her heal; not from physical ailments, but from the emotional and spiritual scars of abuse. Sean Hurley brings us her story.

Sean Hurley

While most newspapers are downsizing, outsourcing, assimilating or outright folding, there’s a newspaper in the North Country that’s flourishing. Two weeks ago the Colebrook Chronicle opened a new business office in downtown Colebrook. As Sean Hurley reports, business at the Chronicle has never been better.

Sean Hurley, NHPR

It was ten years ago Friday, that the state lost the Old Man of the Mountain. A celebration at Profile Park marked the anniversary.

  A lone bagpiper approached the shore of Profile Lake to set the tone of the morning. Throughout the ceremony, eyes and cameras hunted the jagged spot where the Old Man’s face once was. John DeVivo, General Manager of the Park said you can’t help but look:

Thea Dodds

In 2005, photographer Thea Dodds was hired to shoot a wedding in Massachusetts. She spoke to the prospective bride on the phone and drove down to meet the happy couple.

Dodds: I went and met them and it was two women (laughs). So I didn’t even know before I met them that it was a same-sex wedding.

That two-brides no groom job led to other same-sex weddings. And as she gained more experience, Dodds began to realize that she was falling into the same trap.

Sean Hurley

Maple Weekend begins Saturday in New Hampshire, and that means Sugar Houses in the state are open to the public with boiling sap and sweet syrup to sample.  And syrup producers around the state say they are hoping for a strong season this year.

Paul Weeks would rather be in his sugar orchard checking sap lines for leaks or adjusting the boil on his evaporator.  But today’s bitter chill has given him an unwanted break.  

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