It’s been another quiet week up here on the mountain, my little slice of heaven.
It’s the first week of February, and our weather can’t make up its mind. Winter made a brief appearance then vanished again, leaving a few inches of snow that melted off by the end of the week. The bottom half of our road is a combination of ice and dirt that is not fun to get around on, though I have been able to navigate it with some degree of success. The long-range forecast is calling for warmer temperatures and more rain, which is great, but without the normal snow pack, fire season out here will be long and dangerous this coming summer.
As I sit in town with the old loggers some mornings, joking over coffee, I am reminded of my old school friends. I haven’t seen them since I left another small town to join the Navy, many years ago.
I grew up in many small towns in my early life. I talked about Castine, Maine, in a previous post, where I spent some of my preteen years. I spent my junior high and high school years in the small town of Brookfield, New Hampshire, nestled in the foothills of the White Mountains in that beautiful state. I had many friends there, and I have fond memories of them. Some were girls I was madly in love with, others were guys with whom I got into, and out of, trouble more than once. The world, to us, was an open book, waiting for our generation to grab it and shift it into our view of how things should be.
But, life has a way of shaping us, instead. Few of us went off to college, many found jobs, or got married to a high school sweetheart and stayed close by where we grew up. I, in contrast, spent many years away in the south and overseas, soaking up the different cultures and learning the ways of others different from myself. I only went back to the old hometown once during my enlistment, seeking out a few old friends, only to find that nothing had changed but me.
Many years later, after coming back from the war, I had a chance to spend a weekend in my old stomping grounds when I delivered a load to Portsmouth in the southern part of the state. There were no prospects of a return load until the following Monday. So, I decided to take a walk down memory lane, and spent the weekend at a few of the old haunts. I ate at The Poor People’s pub in the town of Sanbornville, the town right next to Brookfield where my family lived. The pub was a local hangout, serving meals and alcohol. Many a summer’s evening was spent there joking with friends, or trying to romance a new prospective girlfriend. I drove past a few of the houses where my friends had once lived and recalled the fun times we had had. Life was so much simpler back then with no bills and no real responsibilities.
I never found any of the old gang, and that’s probably a blessing. We have all gotten older, and I would rather think of my friends as the young boys and girls we once were. I don’t wish to shatter those memories. Most of my friends are still back there, somewhere, though a few, like myself, have moved on to other states, finding a life elsewhere. I do stay in contact with some through social media, but that’s as far as it goes. We all know, deep down, that we will likely not meet again in our lifetime.
“You can’t go home again,” a saying and the title of a book written by Thomas Wolfe in the early part of the last century. Truer words were never coined. I think that the more one travels, and the more worldly and wise one becomes, the further one drifts away from those old anchors of the past. We choose to visit those old memories from time to time, but there is no turning back. After years of travel, I find myself living in another small town, having coffee with a few new friends. I will always have those memories of another small town back east, and the friends that helped shape who I am today, even if they don’t know it.
That’s all the news for the week. Bye for now.