The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Peace and Quiet
Help someone escape the hustle & bustle

By Kelly Sennott

Sometimes, after a holiday season of noise and chaos, all you want is some peace and quiet. Here are few gift options.

Outdoor sanctuaries
What’s more peaceful than the great outdoors? If you’re a true New Hampshirite, then the correct answer is not much. (Unless you are being attacked by a bear, a shark, a lion, whatever.)
If you want to give the gift of peace and quiet, then consider memberships or gift certificates that enable your gift receivers to better appreciate our state’s most tranquil mountain, trail, beach and lake offerings.
One option: a membership to the New Hampshire Audubon. All of the organization’s land, trails and sanctuaries are open to the public; however, members are the ones who will get the most use out of them. And right now, because the Audubon’s 100th year is nearing an end, there’s just a bit more time to snag its $19 membership sale (normally, it costs about $39).
“When you become a member, you get access to all of our materials, in-depth trail maps. ... You have discounts on programs we do — educational programs, camps and purchases in our nature store,”  said Gaye LaCasce, director of membership and development at the Audubon. 
And lots of the Audubon’s programs and trail guides are completely free for members.
“We have 10,000 acres of land for people to use, which is certainly open to anybody, not just members, but members tend to have better access to information about where those sanctuaries are,” LaCasce said.
Audubon centers exist in Concord (McLane Center), Manchester (Amoskeag Fishways), the Massabesic Center (Auburn) and the Newfound Center (Hebron), but Audubon-maintained land exists throughout the state.
“Some of the trails are handicapped-accessible, and some have boardwalks to make it easy for people to get in and out,” she said. 
Membership means discounts on other peace and quiet-promoting items in the Audubon gift store, like binoculars, bird feeders, outdoor books and outdoor gear.
“[Being outside] allows us to unplug a little bit and remember that we live in a beautiful state, and for those of us who have busy jobs, it’s easy to put your head down and forget about nature and how calming it is, just to take a walk and not have the distractions of a phone ringing or emails popping up,” LaCasce said. 
Another possibility is a gift certificate from New Hampshire State Parks (available at, which could go for day-use fees, camping and admission to Hampton Beach State Park or Wallis Sands State Park. These gift certificates, according to the site, can also be used to purchase season passes and coupon books.
Literally block the noise
Kiley Jones, assistant manager at Brookstone in Manchester, suggested a few ideas for how to tone down the crazy through noise-reducing and noise-canceling headphones. 
“We have wireless TV headphones that transfer the sound from the TV to you personally, so nobody else can hear the television except you,” Jones said. (Great if you’re watching your favorite show and don’t want distractions, and also great to make your friends and family wear when they’re watching a show you don’t want to listen to.)
There are also specific “shield” headphones from Brookstone and other brands that are specifically noise-canceling. They literally have a noise-canceling button you can press to block out other sounds, which is ideal for listening to music — because music sounds better when you can’t hear anything else — but also for things like traveling, working, studying or relaxing. (Or sleeping; does your gift receiver have a roommate who snores?)
Jones said she’s seen it used quite a bit among avid travelers. They do come at a price — Jones said they start at around $119.
Hire a babysitter
What your friend who’s a parent really wants is for you to find him or her a babysitter.
Offer yourself up — give that parent a few “babysitter passes” from yours truly — or find someone yourself. Scour New Hampshire babysitting websites like and, or ask for personal recommendations.
“Ask friends, go on Facebook. Lots of people prefer sitters who have been certified by the Red Cross,” said certified New Hampshire organizer Sue West in a phone interview.
Taking care of kids, West said, can be very tiring, and she thinks any parent would be happy to receive the opportunity to go out and do something she normally can’t with children in tow, like shop, go on a date or see a movie that’s not rated PG —or maybe even take a nap. 
As seen in the December 11, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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