This morning while walking our dog in below zero weather, I redirected my attitude towards winter’s wrath here in the White Mountains by brainstorming all the reasons I love living here. My reward for the pre-work dog walk in frigid temps was a glorious sunrise and a heart shaped ice chunk. Having lived in the North almost twenty years now, it’s longer than I officially have lived anywhere else, including the town I grew up in. I tell my students how we move places in life for different reasons and some of them may surprise us. For instance, I moved for a relationship which ultimately didn’t work out. He left; I stayed. Yet, had he not taken a job north of the Notch all those years ago, I’m not sure I would have ever left my beautiful seacoast. Now, I can’t imagine living or raising my family anywhere else.
To be clear, the Western White Mountains Chamber of Commerce did not ask me to write this advertisement for why you might consider moving your family here. However, our local chamber has a wealth of information about this community so check out the website because it’s pretty awesome. Nor are our communities of Lincoln and Woodstock (or surrounding towns) desperate for new folks to populate our neighborhoods and schools, although we would welcome you with open arms. Rather, when we find ourselves being frustrated about the world beyond our control, including Mother Nature and the collective crap of unfairness the universe throws– tragedy, illness, financial stress, political upheaval, etc.– we need to look at the good. So here are my top ten reasons to move to the mountains:
- The Air. We literally have the BEST air to breathe up here– even on the coldest days when that same air freezes your nostril hairs. The amount of “outside time” our children have is perhaps the number one reason why we are happy to raise them here.
- The School and Community Support for the School. Our class size is small, and I can count on one hand the number of times a student has been disrespectful in my classroom this year. Our school district meeting is March 19 at 7 PM, and people who support education along with the adults and children who spend our days in those schools will show up. With that said local friends, be sure to show up! Your presence matters!
- Local Emergency Services. Our police, fire and EMT departments consist of devoted, experienced and hardworking men and women who strive daily to make positive contributions to our towns, building relationships with both adult and child populations. Their work matters!
- “It Takes a Village” Kind of Community. Much like my own childhood of the 80s (and anyone who grew up before then) our kids roam the neighborhood on bicycles, build snow forts, visit friends, sled, problem solve conflicts– and when they can’t– either close to home, at the Kanc Recreation Center, and at school, there are willing adults who step in to be sure people are safe or who follow up with me should one of my offspring be exploring colorful language or worse. Thank you for helping us to hold our kids accountable for their choices.
- The Landscape. Not enough can be said for the power of nature where we live. Our playscapes include mountains to hike up or ski down (big and small, chairlifts, gondolas, even old school rope tows, and our own two feet), rivers to float down, lakes to fish in, and streams to throw rocks.
- Diversity. Our towns are small but given our knack for tourism, we attract people from many cultural backgrounds and a wide variety of financial situations. In the same way, I explain to our kids why some of our Loon Mountain friends have a mountain house and a regular house, and buy new skis every year, my son’s teacher reminds him how not every kid in town gets to ski at the Kanc, the local rope tow, so not to put any singular experience down. This matters!
- Recreation Opportunities. We had friends visiting over vacation week whose minds were blown at our Kanc Recreation Area between the numbers of local kids competing in ski races, big air competitions, cardboard box designs, family bonfires. When we see a place through someone else’s eyes, we are reminded of our good fortune.
- Prevention and Addiction. We are not immune to the drug problem here in our mountains; however, with The Bridge Project, “who takes a stand for what is possible” along with a host of local ministries of various denominations, people are able to find people who will help them to find the resources they need. In addition we have perhaps the BEST local Rotary group ever, pitching in whenever and wherever needed and sharing that young people along the way.
- Resiliency Modeled by Nature. Mother Nature is fierce here. Her winds blow cold and icy, and snow covers the grass for basically 45% of the year. When your school uses a 10 degree cut off for outdoor recess, your kids grow up pretty fierce too. They say grit and resilience aren’t qualities we can teach; fortunately, they are developed here every year we survive another winter. So there’s that…
- Oh, and the Air again. Breathe deep. Look for hearts in ice chunks and know that both daylight savings and spring are right around the corner. Yup, knowing that winter eventually winds down and having a student in my advisory ask, “Why haven’t you written a blog in a long time?” That matters too.