a love letter to rural new england

what's up? it's been a second. I'm in my hometown now for a brief spell. Growing up in such a beautiful place had a profound impact on me. Let me tell you about it. Nottingham, New Hampshire is a town of five and a half thousand, less than 20 miles inland from the atlantic coast. it has the typical rural new england charm while being located close enough to boston that many of the people who live here, including my mom for at least part of my childhood, work in the city. the place is full of natural beauty: there is the lake I grew up on, called pawtuckaway lake, named by the pennacook tribe that once inhabited the area. the lake falls to the west of a geological formation known as a ring dike, essentially a collapsed volcano that became a complex of three mountains, known simply as north mountain, middle mountain, and south mountain. scattered throughout the wooded areas I explored in my childhood are gigantic boulders that people come from all over the world to scale. literally next-door to me growing up is pawtuckaway state park, a 5,000 acre nature preserve surrounding much of the lakeshore, mountains, and nearby forest. the lake isn't overly commercialized like many larger ones-- there are plenty of old cottages like the one my parents live in and which my grandfather built, and more than half of the shoreline remains undeveloped because of its status as a convervation area.

before I was old enough to even think about learning to drive a car, my father bought me a small, 14-foot-long aluminum boat with an 8 horsepower motor perched rather precariously on its stern. I buzzed around the whole lake with it, making my mental map, visiting friends at their campsites, jumping off bridges, and even fishing in my secret spots well after I should have gotten a license. having a tiny rig like that allowed me to trim up my motor to explore narrow spots and land on islands. one of the islands was named hooker island (I know, right?) after the surname, not the profession. someone had once lived on hooker island, but the only remnants of human life was a collapsed stone fireplace. hooker island was home to my favorite boulder to climb, as well as a mysterious rope swing that had been replaced many times over the years. to this day i wonder if it had been a series of people maintaining the rope swing, or the same people through the years retying it when it began to slip or fray. I'll never know. blueberry island was my second favorite island. in mid-to-late-july, the wild blueberries would start to ripen and only the locals knew exactly when blueberry season would be. we would float up to the islands that were off the radar of tourists and kayakers and pick the berries. blueberry island always had the most: I swear that the majority of the ground vegetation there was blueberry bushes. year after year, i promised i would make a pie with them, but they were just too sweet and flavorful. I always ate them all plain. maybe, if they were lucky, i'd make my family or friends some blueberry pancakes. blueberries are, in fact, huge in northern new england. wild blueberries taste like no other blueberry you have EVER tasted. they have so much flavor. in early august when enough berries had been harvested, my hometown would always host an annual blueberry pancake breakfast, flowing with maple syrup and blueberry compote. all of the berries came from the lakeside. There is so much more to say about my home and my fond childhood memories of it, but now is not the time and the place for those words to flow forth. expect a "love-letter to catching frogs" in the future...maybe...

I am so thankful to live in a city now. the advantage of having these resources and the pace of the lifestyle is incredibly important for me as a university-educated twenty-something. It would also be amiss to not point out the fact that i am much safer in montreal as both a jew and a trans person, not to mention having kosher food and trans medical care much more accessible. I enjoy living right at the foot of mont-royal and having so many beautiful parks at my disposal, as well as the ability to get around so inexpensively and having most of my needs be a walk or bus ride away. however I'll always be homesick for the pure expanse of the lakes and forests and seasides of where I grew up. I'll always think of it as my home regardless of the weirdos that inhabit it and the negative connotations of being an American.