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The Places I've Loved

Monday, 27 September 2010, 7:19 AM

I was visiting with my Uncle Vernon, Aunt Pauline, and my cousins this weekend and, as always, the area I live in came up as a topic. My uncle grew up here and now shares a cabin with other members of the family. They come and visit to stay a weekend once in awhile and often I hear how one or the other would love to move back here, that it's great up here.

It is great here. It's quiet, beautiful scenery, and the people are really nice. But it started me thinking about the places I've lived and how each one was a place I loved. I can honestly say I've never lived anywhere that I found to be miserable. Each place that I have lived I found something special enough that I could have spent the rest of my life there.

I grew up in Loudon NH, if you are a Nascar fan you've heard of it. It's a small New England town near the capital of New Hampshire, Concord. Life was good growing up. The Spring always brought great run off that I pretended were rivers that I dammed up and made lakes out of. There was maple syrup cooking in the shack a few hundred feet down the road from us.

Sometimes my parents would take us kids to a maple syrup farm (or maybe we'd go on a school trip), it was a long time ago, but I do remember people dumping buckets of fresh snow on some kind of table and being given a toothpick to roll maple syrup in that was poured on the snow.

Summers I spent fishing with Dad. We'd go to the Capitol lawns at night and catch nightcrawlers with our hands, using flashlights to spot them.

Mostly Dad liked fishing for hornpout, a small catfish. They had barbs you had to be careful of. I got nicked a time or too and Dad would rub the wound on the fish's belly. That was supposed to cure the sting, though I don't recall it helping much.

I'd often spend weekends or even a month with my cousin Allen who was my age. We'd climb trees and go swimming. He had a neighbor, a girl who was a couple years older than us. She introduced us to the Beatles and I remember wishing she would introduce me to other things, but she never did.

In the Fall it was back to school and the trees turning color. There was Halloween to look forward to and after that Thanksgiving.

The winter would come and Mom would make sure we were bundled up. We'd spend the entire day outside on the weekends. There was sledding, and snow forts. Snowball fights and eating snowflakes.

When we moved to Alaska, I was excited about going. Alaska was all about fishing and hiking in the summer. Some of the greatest times I had was catching salmon with the rain pouring down on us. Getting home, we'd change clothes and drink Russian Tea, a concoction of hot Tang and spices (sugar, cinnamon, and cloves I think).

Fall was my favorite time of year. The bugs were pretty much gone, the air was cool but not yet freezing, and the days were still plenty long enough. You could smell the cranberries in the woods and the air was crisp.

Winters there were dark and claustrophobic but there was skiing and snowmobiling. If it weren't for the lack of sunshine, winter would have been great there.

I lived in Spokane WA for awhile. Spokane is the only city around for hundreds of miles and so is a little bit of a cultural center for the high plains desert of the Northwest. I had some really great friends there. I was a little wild then, but it was my age (mostly).

Lodi CA was my home for nearly 25 years. There are basically two seasons in the Central Valley of California. There is summer and then there is rain. The 100 degree heat baked us sun worshipers all summer long. I enjoyed the heat of summer and welcomed the winter rains and chill as the counterpoint to the rest of the year.

Now here I am, back where I came from; less than twenty miles from where I was born and where most of my family originated. It is great here. I could spend the rest of my life here and be content. Of course, if I do find myself somewhere else, I'm sure I would find something to love about being there as well.

Being home is loving where you are, and perhaps that has a little to do with loving who you are and who you spend time with. No matter where I've lived and no matter how fucked up my life seems at times, I always find something special; something to love in the place I find myself living.

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