Tuesday, August 01, 2006


In Which I Am 2 for 2...

I know a lot of people who have come from small towns and most of them couldn't get away fast enough.

Not me.

Granted, the town in New Hampshire where my family is from is about as small as you probably want to get. When I lived there it had 70 registered voters and a summer population of less than 1,000 people. My aunt Barbara ran the post office out of her living room, one of the last such village post offices of its kind. TV reception was awful--to this day they still don't have cable, but you can get satellite TV, of course. There was one village store which is now closed, but may open again. It has a cyclical life, that store, and is probably in a dormant phase.

Not a lot went on in that town, and certainly there wasn't much there of interest to kids like my brother and me. And yet whenever we went away from it--whether for vacation or to follow my dad to one of his far-flung jobs--I always looked forward to returning, no matter what my age. Maybe that's why: Ever since I was 9, I've never really lived I the town for more than a season at a time. We spent every summer there, to be sure, and later, out of college, I lived there for a year. If I had been there for a consecutive string of years, I might too have grown sick of my small town. But I didn't, so I'm not, and so I'm grateful.

I haven't been home in three years. But tomorrow I will be there. And I can't wait.

As even the most casual reader of this blog will glean, I've had something of an eventful year. I could really use a week in which my obligations are no more pressing than making sure I've packed enough sandwiches for our hike to the Ledge--the topmost part of the 120 acres of timberland my dad owns, the last unspoiled chunk of the original family farm, first tended to by my multi-great grandfather Nicholas, when he came to New Hampshire in the 1630s. I need to make my pilgrimage to that ledge. I need to recharge, and I can think of no better way than to spend some time in the forests of my forefathers, steeping myself in the smells and sounds and slanted light that falls through the leaves of the trees of the place where I am from.

This time, it will be all the sweeter that Thomas, now almost 8 and a tall, strong kiddo, wants to explore the place his family helped settle. The last time we visited, he was 5 and too little for any kind of extended hike. Now he's got his own pair of hiking boots and he's been training up, walking a mile a night around our neighborhood, sometimes wearing a backpack, sometimes not.

My dad is overjoyed. Ever since he first laid eyes on his only grandson, he's been waiting to take him into our woods, to show him our sacred places--the moss bed where my dad often slept nights as a little boy; the stone wall where my uncle found the rusted remnants of a Colonial era musket, just propped there and forgotten; the old log road that turns to a brook that marks the place where, one Christmas, we slid a mess of Christmas tree down the ice in order to make some money for the holidays; the secret road that leads to the overgrown stone foundations of what had once been a village. The list goes on, and if we're lucky, Thomas and I will add to it.

The Brownie, Her Lovely Self and my mother will meanwhile be hitting the outlet stores. The Brownie and her grandmother are legendary shoppers. And the Brownie is already planning some picnics in the backyard in Grandma's flower garden. For this purpose, she will be bringing as many stuffed animals on the plane as FAA regulations allow. Mostly, these will be foxes. And a surprise guest.

I worked a 15-hour day today, and somewhere in the middle of it, I had a video conference call with some of the folks who led our focus groups several weeks back. Before we wrapped up, though, one of the women smiled sheepishly into the camera and said, "By the way, did any of you lose this?" And then, there on the TV screen, in front of my boss and colleagues, she began waving the missing Jenny--the fox I had lost during my barnstorming trip to the focus groups. The woman was whipping it over her head like it was a starter's flag. He must have fallen out of my bag during the last focus group.

I fessed up right away--at this late date, do you really think I make any effort to conceal my essential goofiness from my coworkers?--and the women were nice enough to agree to ship it to my folks' house. So that will be a nice surprise for the Brownie when she gets there, in about 12 hours.

And with that, I will big you adieu for a day or so. My folks ostensibly have an Internet connection--my Big Brother gets online long enough to make with the snappy patter in comments--so you may expect a few posts and a few pictures as the week progresses.

Hopefully when I do post, you will understand why I firmly believe that not only can you go home again, but you can bring new generations with you. Moreover, while that generation might have been born elsewhere and now live hundreds of miles away, if you show them the secret places and tell them the stories of those places, they too may come to see what you see, may come to love what you love.

And when that happens, they may find that they, too, have come home.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

How awesome that you have that much unspoiled land upon which to traipse with your eager little Art Lad. Brings back memories of when my hometown was more farms than subdivisions and we could spend hours upon hours playing out in the woods behind my friend's house. Have a great trip!
Have an awesome trip.. Your family land reminds me of my grandparent's land where I used to spend summers. Can't wait to read the upcoming posts and I'm so glad that Brownie's fox was found. How surprised is she going to be?? I figured with all the excitement going on with the Blaze rescue that he had been forgotten. Have a wonderful time and a safe flight...and don't leave any foxes on the plane!
I've only just discovered your blog, but spent several hours over the weekend hopping through. Thanks for helping me avoid doing anything productive, and have a great trip.
Bon voyage, MM.

Oddly enough, I find myself on a similar sort of journey, and it's rejuvenating and wonderful and everything I had hoped it would be.

Hope yours is too.

I knew Jenny wouold turn up, you've got to get PICs of that reuinion.

Be prepared, were having a heatwave. They expext it to hit 100 tomorrow - with a heat index of 110!
Welcome back to NH! I hope your father's acreage includes a swimming hole since it's supposed to be beastly for the next few days.

If you find yourself around Keene & need a tour guide, give me a holler.
What a gift to give your children. That land, that history, filled with possibility and promise. I'm from New Jersey, so I have some appreciation for New England and history. Enjoy and be safe, and take it as slowly as possible. Time is of affliction.
Full circle-- I'm glad Jenny is coming home. Have fun up there, by Gorry..
i'm quite envious of the heritage your family has managed to preserve. to be able to provide those kinds of roots to the next generation is a precious gift.

and, cool! jenny has returned! yay!

vaya con dios!
Awesome definitely is the word for it. Blaze's rescue, the Brownie's mysterious and fortuitous meeting, Jenny's discovery, the return to roots, and the grand adventure to follow. It's continuing to be a wild and amazing ride!
Have a safe trip! And get Thomas to take some pictures!

I loved the ones of your dad in the woods that your photographer friend took :) It seems that land is great fodder for photos. I want to see more!
have fun and be safe!!!!
Have a safe trip! I know that's diffcult for you, MM, but try not to come home ill, beat up or otherwise sticken.

Enjoy that time with the famil, Sounds like a wonderful time with wonderful memories (yours and those to be made for ArtLad).
With no apologies to anyone:

Jenny, I've got your number,
so glad to hear you're fine,
Soon you'll be back with Brownie,
Dear sweet Jenny so good and kiiyind,
Let's all celebrate and have some wine,
When you were missing the Brownie pined,
Artlad's SuperPig's an awesome swine,
He drew him on some paper that was lined,
you're all floppy cause you've got no spine,
and this proof that I have lost my mind....

That sounds so wonderful, MM. Your family's farm sounds like a fairytale. You and Thomas will have a blast!
My husband is from a tiny town in New Hampshire called Colebrook. Be careful though! You blink and you miss it.

We honeymooned in North Conway (at a sweet place called The Eastern Slope Inn), and I fell in love with the White Mountains-- would go back is a heartbeat there.
hey hey, I had a feeling Jenny might find his way back to you and the Brownie.

Have a good, safe trip!
Have a good, safe, trip, MM! I remember my time in New Hampshire quite fondly, even though I only lived there for about fifteen months.

I will keep my fingers crossed that you have an exciting but SAFE AND FUN BUT NOT TOO EVENTFUL trip this time.
Have a great trip MM. The family and I are about to go on one ourselves. So we'll see you when we return as well.

And as all of us here, who know you so well have observed, try to make this one of those ordinary run of the mill trips. I think you've had your quota of strange occurances for the summer.

There's more waiting for you in the fall, I am sure of it.

Bon Voyage!
A friend of mine at work went home last week- East Tennessee- She had the same reaction as I every time I go. Her heart skipped a beat when the first hill hit view. Dorothy knew what she was talking about.

I wish the same for you and your family- Have a wonderful time and watch out for snakes.
//And then, there on the TV screen, in front of my boss and colleagues, she began waving the missing Jenny//

no effin' way.

i am so jealous of your life.
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