Home is where you freeze before you reach the first marker

One of the things I’ve been trying to be better about is embracing and connecting with the area in which I live. Sometimes this is challenging. Especially in winter.

I was born, raised, and currently reside in New Hampshire. And while my family has lived in the same town for several generations, it’s never exactly felt like home to me. At least, not in any way more profound than just being the zip code I put on my mail.

When you add in the fact that the winters here can be brutal, and the fact that I absolutely hate the cold, it should be obvious why my relationship with this place is a bit…strained.

Especially in winter.

Right now, it is six degrees Fahrenheit outside.

Tonight, it’s going to be nine degrees.

Tomorrow night, three.

So, yeah, “challenging” is certainly a word for how I feel about the place I’m in, though I can think of many more colorful words to describe it.

For a while there, it looked like we might be skipping winter entirely. December and most of January were downright mild, with only one real snowstorm, and even then most of the snow melted away in a day or two.

Now, though, we’ve got some kind of Jack London thing going on. Bitter cold, unrelenting winds, and two storms which have left about a foot of snow in my yard—and not of bit of it expected to melt for weeks.

I keep trying to look ahead toward the spring and summer, and all of the plans I’m making for the warmer months.

I think about the walking and hiking I’m going to do. I think about how I’m going to clear the clutter from my porch and make it more hospitable. I think about the gardens, and the flowers, and the firepit I plan to install.

But all of this is maybe missing the point. Or maybe I’m just missing an opportunity.

Sure, looking ahead gives me some mental-slash-emotional relief from the winter misery, but…

Is there a way for me to live through a New Hampshire winter without feeling miserable in the first place?

Is there a way I can embrace this place without judging it? Or is there some wonder to winter that I’m missing, simply because I can’t get past my own physical discomfort with below-freezing-temperatures?

I have no answers to these questions, but trying to connect more deeply with this place of my birth seems a decent enough way to begin.

To that end, I’ve started reading a little about the “natural history” of New Hampshire. It’s geology, geography, and ecology. And I’ve started looking at what little I’ve been able to find so far about the history of the first people who lived here, thousands of years before Europeans came poking their noses around.

I’m a book nerd, after all, so books are where I tend to begin.

And once the weather’s gotten a little more amicable, I plan to go out to as many different corners of this place as I’m able. Take in all of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings which present themselves.

Take in the place as much as it has taken me and my family in for all of these years.

Then, who knows?

Maybe next winter I won’t feel like such a stranger in a strange land.

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