When I arrived in the Granite State at the end of 1994, I had no idea I'd still be here in 2015. Let's just say that my husband and I had an entirely different game plan in mind back then.
I'm not sorry that my stay has lasted so long. Quite the contrary: I've grown to love this place deeply. I became a photographer here, and as such, I have traveled the back roads and hiked trails from the Seacoast to the Great North Woods - some of them many, many times. Though small in area, New Hampshire's geography is richly varied. Within her borders you'll find everything from ocean shoreline and coastal islands to rivers and lakes, vast timberland, and mountain peaks. I deeply cherish the opportunity I've had to explore, experience, and capture these beautiful landscapes with the lens.
I ran across a wonderful book a number of years ago entitled Seasons at Eagle Pond. In it, author Donald Hall (the poet laureate of New Hampshire from 1984-1989 and also the 14th U.S. poet laureate) writes beautifully about the Granite State. The focus is rural life on his farmland, but Hall's anecdotes accurately describe a lot of what I've experienced in the nearly 20 years I've trekked across the state with my camera in tow.
Something Hall writes in his chapter on autumn aptly summarizes how I feel about this place, not just during foliage season, but throughout the year:
"And you looked around you in the October woods at the extended private exhibition, low pale Autumn sunlight striking through the diminishing leafy air to catch on reds and yellows of the great woods. After hauling rocks it was good to catch your breath; it was good to look, and look, and look.
And everyone looked and still looks. Even people who have lived their whole lives here never become bored with this looking..." (emphasis added)
I wasn't born and raised in New Hampshire, but it has gotten into my blood. It's as much a part of me now as is my native Illinois.
This week, I will be leaving this land I love. It is bittersweet; the landscapes to which I'm headed are also quite spectacular and will be wonderful to photograph. But a piece of my heart will remain here always, especially in my beloved White Mountains. Farewell....