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Why People Love New England

Why People Love New England
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A few weeks ago, a reader named Dawn Rigoni left this comment on my blog: “… I’m one of those people who is ‘homesick for New England’ even though I’ve never lived there. I’ve dreamed of living in Vermont ever since I was little, even though I’ve never been; my favorite school librarian moved away to Weathersfield, Vermont, when I was a child and sent me a postcard, and ever since, I’ve felt that my heart belongs to a place I’ve never set foot in … Please know how fortunate you are to live in such a beautiful corner of the world!”

I’ve heard this often in my years here at Yankee — letters and calls from distant places from people who feel they belong to a region they’ve never seen. It’s as though they have a memory in their hearts of New England. Now I don’t imagine that in that yearning they consider negotiating a rotary in Boston, or crawling along Storrow Drive at 5 p.m., or shoveling out after a nor’easter, or even working in the garden with blackflies swarming in May. I think they dream of small towns, stone walls, seas pounding on rocks, pine trees and maples, sugar shacks, town meetings, country stores, rolling hills, and town greens — all those markers that tell us where we are when we’re here.

I don’t think New Englanders feel this way about distant places — at least none I know. Oh, every winter, especially during a cold snap, or when spring takes forever to bloom, I hear friends talking about sunny climes and tropical breezes — but that’s escape talk, fleeting and understandable, not a bone-deep feeling like the one my correspondent, Dawn, describes.

I wonder how many of us who live here take New England for granted. It’s the easiest thing to do, like looking at the face of a loved one so often that you no longer really see it. This is what happened in the ’60s and ’70s, and even into the ’80s, when some of the most cherished and historic houses in various towns and cities in New England fell to wrecking balls. In their place rose condo complexes, parking lots, home developments, and department stores. We forgot how lovely those faces were.

In the next month, a photographer for Yankee will be traveling to some of the most beautiful places in the region, all of which were preserved by people who never forgot to see. We’re lucky — among the luckiest people anywhere. I hope one day Dawn Rigoni gets to see for herself.

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8 Responses to Why People Love New England

  1. Dawn Rigoni May 5, 2009 at 11:16 am #

    Dearest Mel,
    I am touched by your understanding of people like me, and infinitely pleased to know that you do, indeed, appreciate and hope to preserve the beauty and history of your home. I am looking forward to the Yankee issue you’ve mentioned containing photographs of the ‘most beautiful places in the region;’ this will be a true source of comfort to me, and most certainly a motivation towards realizing my dream of discovering New England for myself sooner rather than later.
    With warm regards, Dawn

  2. RICHARD WARD May 6, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    Hello Mel;
    My name is Richard Ward and I was born in 1936 and raised in Lawrence Massachusetts.
    My second wife, who I met here in 1981 in Baltimore, Maryland and I live in the ourskirts of Baltimore.
    By the time 1958 came alone I was married and the father of three daughters and one son.
    To support my family, I took on a job as a tractor trailer driver.
    The company that I worked for manufactured paper products.
    Our products were delivered to woolen and paper mills all over New England.
    I remember the first time I drove up that long hill in Dublin in front of your Yankee office.
    I had a heavy load on and I had to down shift to the lowest gear that I could use.
    One of our customers was across the street on the street opposite your office.
    Being a photographer, it was a pleasure and delight to be able to drive during the four seasons in the Mount Monadnock area.
    I had detoured while driving through Dublin one day and ventured to the state park.
    I noticed that visitors could climb the mountain by way of three methods.
    I noticed a sign that read that folks could climb the mountain on foot by taking the white dot trail.
    This climb was for people that climbed and were unassisted by any ropes or other climbing gear.
    The other two climbing methods meant that you had to have climbing gear.
    As time and many delivery trips went by, I decided to climb the mountain on Labor Day weekend in 1977.
    I chose to take my two daughters along and not to tell them where we were going to go and what we were going to do.
    As we drove closer to the Dublin area MT. Monadnock came into view.
    I pointed to the mountain and said to them, “See that mountain?” ” We are going to climb it”
    They didn’t say anything about the mountain, but I’m sure they were wondering how we were going to climb it.
    We arrived at the state park and I surprised to see so many other visitors.
    They too had the same purpose-to climb the mountain.
    This are so many incidents that happened that day to describe and I would be all day writing this story.
    We started out with water and peanut butter and jelly on crackers.
    I had noticed that my daughters chose to eat most of the crackers on our climb.
    I warned them that they should save some for the clinb down.
    On the way up we were able to enjoy natural spring water that came trickling down from above.
    After two hours of slipping and sliding, we made it to the top.
    It was a beautiful sunny day and we could see for miles.
    My daughters chose to lie dawm while I took photos of climbers and the surrounding area.
    After we enjoyed the view my reminder my daughters not to get to comfortable.
    “We have a two hour climb back down” I reminded them.
    They sat up rested and we started back down.
    Nothing to eat or drink until we arrived at the spring along the trail.
    Two hours later we were back at our car.
    To prevent starvation, for me and my my girls, I had packed our charcoal grille, three T-bone steaks and a complete salad.
    We ate like a king and queens.
    It was an enjoyable adventure climbing that mountain and still today we reminisce about that day.
    Yes, I miss new England and every chance I get, we travel back.
    Uor next visit will be Labor Day to enjoy the Hampton Beach Sea Food Festival in Hampton, New Hampshire.
    Thanks for allowing me to tell my story about New England-
    Richard

  3. RICHARD WARD May 6, 2009 at 12:14 pm #

    Thanks, Richard

  4. Mel Allen May 6, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    Wow, Richard and Dawn both of you expressed eloquently your feelings about New England. Richard, anyone who has taken the first climb up Monandock with children will share similar memories. The mountain combines accessibility and “relative” ease with beauty and vistas. I bet your daughters will remember those steaks for the rest of their lives.Dawn the issue we are planiing that photo essay for is the March/April 2010 issue. (we do things far in advance to take advantage of our seasons. But hopefully every issue will bring you a sense of being here.

  5. Lee Williams May 20, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    I am an Army Brat, my Dad spent 20+ yrs as a Soldier. I’ve lived up & down te East coast, but NE has always been my home. Princeton, MA by Mt Wachusett. I have very fond memories of my childhood there. long summer nights lietening to the breeze whispering thru the leaves at night. Beautiful winter days after a fresh snow, falling leaves in many colors int he fall. Many, many drives & hikes just enjoying Nature. There is NO better place than NE !

  6. George Sly May 22, 2009 at 8:54 pm #

    My affection for New England and in particular for Maine comes because it reminds me of where I grew up. I live in New Jersey but from the age of four to the age of sixteen I lived in Seattle, Washington State. I always thought I would go back but that never happened. Maine has the same rocky coast that I remember as a boy in Washington, and the deep evergreen woods, lakes and rivers. Maine even has salmon albeit landlocks and not chinooks. The differences are that Maine has fewer people, tougher winters and lower mountains but the similarities are greater than the differences in my book. My affecton for Maine increased when my daugher went to the University of Maine (Orono). As I see it the Northeast and Northwest corners of this country are among the loveliest places in America. I’ve been fortunate enough to see both and I’m happy that at least Maine is close by. With luck my wife and I hope to retire there.

  7. jacki wilmot October 22, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    I was born in Northampton and my family left Mass for Florida when I was two. I didn’t get back to NE until I was 28. I don’t know how to explain it any other way except it just grabs you. I felt an immediate connection with everything and everyone as soon as I got there. It was great seeing the old family home. I went with a friend whose grandfather still lived there and knew my family. we sat on his front porch, drank brandy to keep warm and talked about home and family. Our families were owners of the Draper Motel if anyone remembers that place. Whew! Before my time. Mt. Greylock was spectacular. I went back a few years later to inquire about some property and stayed in Lee Mass with a friend in a huge house at the bottom of October mt. I vowed to come back someday. I now have a friend in Conn. and I can work with her in the summers if I want. “I’m getting closer to my home.” as in the song by Grand Funk Railroad.(aging myself here). thank you for letting me comment on the best place on earth.

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