MORRILL MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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girl-child-standing-in-the-forest

The Great Outdoors

girl-child-standing-in-the-forestI have always been an indoor kid. Sure, I played outside, participated in some sports, went swimming, and all the normal childhood activities, but I usually had to be forced to do these things. My mom was forever kicking us out of the house and telling us they bought a house with a yard “for a reason!” I was perfectly content to stay inside and watch TV, color, or just play (and,when I got older, read.)

One exception was our yearly trip to New Hampshire. My grandfather’s friend had a house in the mountains that his family used for skiing all winter long. In the summer, friends like my grandpa could use it to bring their grandkids to Story Land and Santa’s Village, and just escape to the trees for awhile.

We would go up for one or two weeks, and my brother and I just loved it. Being in the mountains and the trees, everything just felt cleaner and cooler. I grew up in a coastal fishing town, but summer could still feel humid and oppressive, not to mention the smells coming from the harbor. The mountains were an escape to a less developed, quieter place we dreamt about all year long.

In New Hampshire, we explored caves and mountain streams. Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves made us feel like real explorers and outdoors-folk, getting wet and dirty as we inched through the “Bear Crawl” or felt claustrophobic in the “Lemon Squeeze.” We stopped at all the sites in the Franconia State National Park and we always visited the Old Man in the Mountain – a favorite of my brother’s. The Flume Gorge was another exciting stop where we were allowed to get in the water fully clothed. We rode the out-of-season ski lifts to various peaks, and even stopping at weird gas stations in the middle of nowhere was fun, as my grandparents did not care how much junk food we ate and convincing them to let us buy a new candy bar was always easy.

Of course we loved the theme parks and bizarre attractions like Clark’s Trading Post, but the mountains were their own special destination and prevalent force. No one had to drag us out of the car to climb rocks, or kick us out of the house to explore the woods behind the house where we stayed. What had felt like a punishment at home was an adventure in the mountains.

My brother always said he was going to move there, and as an adult, he has. He loves hiking and kayaking and being in the woods. His wife, a veterinarian, is from Maine, and her father was part of the US Forestry Service. They are completely at home in the nature of New Hampshire.

I, on the other hand, took a different route. For the past twenty years, I have only lived in cities or their surrounding suburbs. I’ve lived in Brooklyn in a “converted warehouse” (I don’t think it counts if they just put a little sheetrock up,) rented out a floor of someone else’s house, or lived in apartments. I have never had my own yard or garden, except for some window boxes filled with herbs.

But now, for the first time in my life, my husband and I are buying a house. It’s not in New Hampshire, but it is surrounded by plants and trees with a pond nearby. It feels private, and there are woods behind the house. There are plants that I will have to learn the names of, and figure out how to best care for. There are birdhouses that will allow us to watch the local animals in action and, hopefully, get to know their names and songs. It makes me feel like a little kid again, excited to explore.

Some related books:
AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains by The Appalachian Mountain Club Books
Scenic Driving in New Hampshire by Stewart Green
Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont by Ethan Hipple

Nicole Guerra-Coon is the Assistant Children’s Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the July 30, 2020 issue of the Transcript and Bulletin.

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