“I could not stop talking because now I had started my story, it wanted to be finished. We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us.”
― Chris Cleave, “Little Bee”
We came to New Hampshire in 1999. After selling our house overnight for lots more money than we thought it was worth, and packing up everything we owned (which was a nightmare) we headed east in two cars – one pulling a boat and one pulling a trailer. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.
I kept a journal of sorts as we crossed the country, hastily scribbled thoughts in a notebook, sort of a running commentary of the things we saw. For example: “Iowa at noon. Hot, windy, white farms, blue silos, corn. Saw Bridges of Madison County. Maxfield Parrish-type scenes.” There were also some memorable quotes from Jaime: “Did you see that lady in the passenger seat of that car?? She had a full mustache!” And on the handheld communicators we took along with us: “10-4, this is Secret Squirrel over and out!”
[Jaime has been entertaining us from the time she uttered her first sentence. Maybe even before.]
Over the years, in this foreign land, we learned about ice fishing, American chop suey, and the proper way to use the word “wicked”. We were amazed to find days on end where the sun shone brightly – even in the winter! – and we bought our very own summer camp. Gradually we felt as if we were blending in, just a little, with these self-reliant, insular, R-dropping New Englanders.
As my 11th year in New Hampshire comes to a close things have changed significantly, but mostly it’s still good here. A friend reminds me, when I have my doubts, that this is a place that many people would spend much money and vacation time to visit, and I cannot argue with that. Stone walls, lobster boats, sugarhouses, granite ledges, saltbox houses, skating ponds, church steeples … I try to photograph these New England icons and weave them into my own life, creating a visual blanket of personal history that I can take with me to wherever I go next.
See you next year. It’s been wicked good!