According to Robert Frost, New Hampshire is “a most restful state.” I don’t know about that, especially during an election year, and I don’t agree with him that the mountains here “aren’t quite high enough.” Otherwise, the sentiments expressed in the poem “New Hampshire” match up with my own, with one exception. Frost says that New Hampshire is “one of the two best states in the Union, Vermont’s the other.” I would have said, “New Hampshire’s the best state, Vermont’s second.”
Wedged between that “second best” state on one side and a few miles of seacoast on the other, it’s not very large as states go. But in terms of natural beauty it can hold its own, even if it’s not quite up with such higher-ranked states as California, Montana, Hawaii, and Alaska. Back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the word “Scenic” even appeared on its license plates.
I was reminded of this when we recently spent a weekend in Bretton Woods. My parents took me to the White Mountains as a child, and I’ve been back many times, but not since the Old Man collapsed. I missed seeing that familiar face but was glad to see that the Flume is still up and flowing, as beautiful as ever.
You don’t have to leave Cheshire County to see natural beauty. After all, we’ve got Mount Monadnock. I’ve been telling people for years that it is the second most climbed mountain in the world, but apparently I’m wrong. I just learned that it ranks no higher than third, behind Fuji and Tai Shan in China.
I’ve been away for quite a while, although not completely. The Pianist and I bought our home in Jaffrey in 1986, but my fishing license has always included the words “non-resident” because my driver’s license said I lived in Massachusetts.
I’ve had a wonderful long visit to the Bay State, where I attended school, raised kids, practiced law, owned homes, met and married the Pianist, and made good friends. Even so, a piece of me never left New Hampshire, which I think is often the case with people born and raised here.
What is there about this state that inspires the loyalty of both its native daughters and sons, of which I am one, as well as those who have adopted it as their home of choice? I don’t think it’s just the forceful state motto, “Live Free or Die.” I think it is also “Live and let live,” the sense that New Hampshire people mostly accept you as you are and don’t ask too many questions.
Last month, I dealt with the movers, change of address forms, and a bunch of cancellations. It took a lot of time, but each step felt like lightening the load. As of five days ago, I no longer live in Massachusetts.
So far this month, I’ve registered to vote, obtained a new driver’s license and dressed my car with a “Live Free or Die” license plate. I’m about to get my “resident” fishing license.
“You Can’t Go Home Again” says the title of a book by Thomas Wolfe. I’m not sure that’s right or that he believed his own title. The book includes the words, “the years flow by like water, and one day men come home again.”
I am glad to be home.