Every year at about this time, Kayte and I pack up our stuff and leave New Hampshire. I work in education, so the summer is a time for mindless outside work and for climbing trips. Every year, we get out the bins and start cramming our possessions into our 10 by 5 storage unit. We throw things away, give things away, and generally compress so as to fit all of our material things into this tiny metal box with a sliding garage door.
I have mixed feelings about this. We usually leave June first and this is the time when the hills around Rumney tend to get shrouded in humidity. The days of perfect conditions on the rock are long in the past as the moisture descends on the state. Plus, I usually go home and I am blessed with a wonderful and supportive family that welcomes my return to Wisconsin. Our off-season rental cottage helps ease the financial load in the summer as rent money is transformed into gas money.
Yet, as the summer begins and as I pack the same things into the same bins, I have come to realize that I have built something closely resembling a life in New Hampshire. I climbed with Jay for most of the weekend at Cathedral Ledge, at crag that is feeling a bit more like home. Today, Kayte and I spent the morning at Rumney with Jay, Leesa, and Nick, all of whom are becoming close and important friends.
This leads me to question where, exactly, I should consider home. Is it Baraboo, WI, where I went to high school, built a house, and where I can count on parents to share their spare rooms and the food in the fridge? Or is home in this new place, where Kayte and I have been steadily laying down roots and culivating friendships? Can it be both?
Maybe it is both, or maybe it has to be. I am a Wisconsinite through and through. Unlike practically everone in New Hampshire, I refuse to use "wicked" as a modifier for anything. ("That move was wicked hard." or "It's wicked hot today.") I found myself strangely cheering for Tommy Thompson during the Republican presidential debate, despite the fact that I disagreed with almost everything he said. That's not entirely true. He did say, during a gubernatorial debate some years back, "I want Wisconsin to be the best state in the world." I do agree with him that Wisconsin's pretty close.
It's been slow, but I am beginning to understand the way things work out here in New Hampshire. People are stand-offish at first. Then, as they get to know you, they can be the warmest most generous people you've ever met. The dump-guy continually talks to me about the weather. The guy at the post office is one of the happiest guys I've ever seen, though his two-hour lunch breaks probably help. I have had some of my best days hanging out at Rumney, braving inclement weather, yet still climbing. That's another New England thing--hardiness. Oh, it's raining, snowing, and thundering at the same time? Oh well, that won't hamper our day of being outside. At least the bugs aren't out.
Well, the bugs are out now and that means it's time to leave. So, it's off to Wisconsin for some Devil's Lake climbing and some chatting with parents. But, I have to say, I'll be happy to be back in New Hampshire. It will be fall by the time I get back. And the leaves should look wicked beautiful.