An Unexpected Blessing
CURTAIN RISINGRecipe for an idyllic scene: take some early morning lake fog, add a dash of brilliant autumn color, and finish with an iconic New England church.
I liked Chicago. There were job opportunities in my field. At the time, much of my immediate family was still scattered around the suburbs. Most important, I wanted to be available to lend a hand to my folks; my mother suffered a massive stroke while I was away at school from which she never fully recovered.
I successfully maintained the geographic status quo until a series of events sent me in wildly different directions. First it was the West Coast, then the East Coast, then the Rocky Mountains. Stay tuned; more to come.
Leaving Illinois was consequential; I knew it was unlikely I'd ever live there again and that I was going to be a bit of a wanderer for a while. In the space of three years I had four different addresses. The day I left for California the next move (which would be 3,000 miles in the opposite direction) was already sketched on the back of a napkin.
And then...New Hampshire. I had no idea when I arrived there how pivotal it would end up being to me.
The five years I anticipated spending in New England turned into nearly twenty. Along the way the Granite State captured my heart and never let go.
I'm never sure how to respond when asked where I'm from because I consider both New Hampshire and Illinois home. If pressed, I'd probably give the edge to New Hampshire because I've spent so much time covering so many square miles of it.
I have a deep affinity for the place itself: the vast forests, the mountains, the beaches and the lakes. The sea, the rivers and the tidal wetlands. Ubiquitous maples and white birches. Lupines in the spring.
I appreciate its unique charm and hallmark attractions like the Cog Railway, the Flume Gorge, the Isles of Shoals, the Connecticut Lakes and the Kancamagus Highway - considered one of the best places in the world to view stunning autumn foliage.
One of the original 13 Colonies, New Hampshire's rich history is fascinating: the Abenaki and Penobscot; the European settlers who arrived in 1623; its declaration of independence from England (the first colony to do so) and the role it played during the Revolutionary War; its World War II harbor defense command.
It's filled with picturesque small towns like Jackson, Peterborough, Sugar Hill, Meredith and Exeter. Signature red brick is abundant: both the buildings and sidewalks are made of it. Old white churches with spires reaching for the sky anchor many a town center. There are dozens of lovely covered bridges scattered across the state. Engineering marvels, they're relics from another time. Thousands of miles of stone walls crisscross the landscape; many have been standing for hundreds of years.
At Christmas, villages are transformed into scenes resembling what you might see in a Currier and Ives lithograph.
The Granite State was quick to charm me. Immediately enamored with the White Mountains, I'd take the camera there and prowl around whenever I could find the time. Though I had been using my equipment for a while by then, it was in the shadow of the Presidential Range that I became a photographer.
New Hampshire is just about perfect for the outdoor photographer. Its geography is richly varied but wonderfully compact. You can watch the sun come up over the ocean and then be working in the mountains at midday. Its picturesque towns are filled with unique regional character. Rye and Portsmouth provide plenty of maritime subject matter. The latter is home to a deep draft harbor and busy working waterfront.
It's impossible to overstate how profoundly New Hampshire changed my life: a place the girl from Chicago never would have imagined she'd end up thinking of as home.
For this unexpected blessing, I will always be thankful.
Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.
In Local News
The water supply in Western Wyoming and Eastern Idaho is in very good shape going into the winter. Palisades Reservoir is currently 64% full and Jackson Lake is at 68%. Even though less snowpack is expected this season due to the El Niño weather pattern, hydrologists are optimistic about the 2023-2024 irrigation situation.
Courtesy of last year's La Niña, Grand Targhee already had 100 inches of snow on the ground when it opened for the winter in November 2022. This time it's a different story; as of last Sunday the base was 20 inches.
It's snowing today, though. Skiers who dreamed of a White Thanksgiving got what they hoped for. The entire region is under a winter storm advisory through tomorrow.
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