Welcome to the First Year in New England
What I have learned in almost a year in New England. It snows a lot. Wicked is used in just about every phrase possible as an expression to enhance the meaning of something good, or crazy. That in nearly a year, I have been taught to drop my “R”s and replace closely with an “H” and thus reducing my raised with “Southern Drawl”. To ultimately create a blended pronunciation of everything, so in turn, when I meet people for the first time, I get one of two reactions, “you’re not from here” or the most outrageous to me is your “Irish or Australian”. The geography nerd in me is thinking, we need to have a geography lesson instead of a conversation.
I have learned about Fishercats. These creatures do exist and are not a legend animal that is made up or as my first thoughts were, “something that is similar to a catfish, maybe, and at best in the fish family”. But no, I was wrong. They are cute looking ferret like creatures amped up on size with an attitude of a badger. In other words, stay away from them, they will eat small dogs and are very mean with a scream similar to a bobcat. Thus, I am glad to have not [yet] encountered one on the mountain trails of the Whites. They are also the name of a local baseball team that just won something big. (note, academia nerd vs sports enthusiast is writing this).
New Hampshire is known for its beautiful landscapes and as one of the top ranking best places to live. I agree. Boston is 45 minutes away, Vermont, Maine, the beach and of course the White Mountains are all at best an hours drive away. Giving a great mix of “if you can imagine it to do, one of those routes will get you there”. Want to jump the border? Drive 3 hours North to Canada. Did I mention it snows a lot. In fact, the White Mountains still have feet of snow at elevation with snow falling today, in Mid May, as well.
New Hampshire has the 48, 4000 footers that everyone who loves outdoors strives to tic off all 48. I have summited 11 since being here and have also completed 3 mountains that are apart of the 52 with a view list. A days hike in the Whites, will for 9 months of the year, be in near freezing or sub freezing temperatures. So summits in the negatives is a norm. Dress accordingly and pack to survive.
I have spent the better part of the year and continue the translation between regions of just some colloquialisms. People go to “bubblers” here. I did not ask for a while as I was a bit concerned to what a bubbler was, it is of course, the water fountain. If I say, “Squirrel” I either get a strange look or people put their feet up in chairs. The latter, of course being the best humor of lost in translation. I still retain the southern ability to effectively use the tonal option of “bless your heart”.
I have learned temperature is relevant. It is perfectly ok to wear shorts and flip flops at 40 degrees. That really is warm. 11 degree mornings are considered nice in the winter. Below that and your nose hairs freeze and that is a weird, miserable and painful sensation. Resulting in a sprint to get inside somewhere. I have learned their are over 200 types of snow. I am sure I have experienced 199 of them. Grapple being the most unique word for a type of snow. Grapple is the snow, similar to sleet that stings a bit when it hits your face. I have survived 3 Nor’easters. One ranked in a historical 3rd biggest and it arrived on April 1st. So don’t let the months fool you. Winter can happen any day of the year. Trust me.
I love fall, the colors are majestic and the mountains and lakes make for beautiful photography and amazing hikes not to mention apple cider, apple picking and fall festivals everywhere. True winter is fun, minus the very limited number of hours of daylight. That was a huge adjustment. Dark begins by 4 PM in the prime of winter. Prime of winter by the way is a range of November to February. Summers are short, but in most cases a perfect 70 ish degrees with chilly nights, cool enough to welcome a sweatshirt or light jacket. But Spring, this season can just exit. There is zero relation to a Spring in the North to a Spring in the South. Seriously, Spring here is a period of time to mess with your brain. The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining. However, that sun, it produces only light, no warmth. And those blooming flowers and trees. Good job, its the best determination to ensure summer arrives as the temperatures certainly don’t apply to the southern mindset of springtime. Spring here is like a rollercoaster of fall and mostly winter or a “mini winter”. This is when you beg for summer to come immediately. Thankfully springtime is short lived. Though Summer is too.
The French-Canadian influence is strong here. Walk into any Bakery and you will immediately understand. Trust me on this. I buy more Sweets and Ice Cream than anything else. Chaz could turn into an attack dog towards me over ensuring he has his share as well. We might be a bit in love with Sweets and Ice Cream here and highly addicted.
Myself and the fur family have certainly enjoyed and continue to enjoy our New England experience. We learn and see new things daily. The sound of honking Canadian geese are a welcomed sound in early Spring and they are the reminder in the fall that winter is coming. It’s crazy to think I am closer to the north pole than I am the equator and I live within a few degrees of the 45th parallel. That my animal to watch for on the roads are Moose, not deer, and most dumpsters are bear proofed. Not to mention, making the mind shift that Boston is my home city now, not Atlanta. But I can say, I can now navigate Boston without GPS and have learned to comfortably drive its insane boom town traffic and navigate through the “big dig” tunnels of roadways under the city to pop out on narrow streets. But more on Boston at another time….
Here’s to a remarkable first year of New England!
Signing off today from chilly New England, USA