By Susan Dromey Heeter
A great way to see where and how you really live is to view your locale through someone else’s eyes, someone new to your venue, your hometown, your part of the world.
This week’s Joyful Musing’s guest is the most lovely Southern transplant to New England, Kimberly Barnard. Kim is a French teacher at Dover High School and while Kim teaches her own students about the culture and language of the French speaking world, she herself is learning the culture and language of New Hampshire.
Or as some might say up in this land o’ granite, “New Hampshah.”
Kim has lived below the Mason Dixon line for most of her life, having spent her formative years in Pensacola, Florida. According to Kim, Maryland and Virginia are not authentic Southern locales as they are “cold.” When I asked Kim of her experiences with frigid temps, she told me she did survive in Atlanta when it was six degrees and her heat went out. That, according to Kim, was one brisk day.
But Kim is bracing for New Hampshire’s winter; she has boots from Land’s End and was wearing her “winter shoes” as we spoke. I did not have the heart to tell Kim her delicate tan ballet flats may not make it through November, but I adore her optimism.
And, I did not want to be too direct or harsh as, according to Kim, it seems we New Englanders are not as chatty as she is used to; we tend to use fewer pleasantries and talk fast. “It’s not impolite,” remarked Kim, “It’s just matter of fact, to the point – when I call for pizza there are no pleasantries, just ‘Okay, what do you want?’” Kim’s theory behind this is that should we New Englanders slow down and chat, we may freeze. Hmm … quite possibly, frostbite can be a most definite threat – and we need our pizza, stat.
When I asked Kim of foods she is enjoying here in New Hampshire, her eyes lit up at the mention of Cape Cod Kettle Chips. She is a huge fan. And while she is not quite clear on the differences between moon pies and those of the whoopie variety, she is eager to try the latter.
Kim has, however, been missing that delicacy of the south: grits. “I put an SOS call out on Facebook” said Kim, “There were no grits in the grocery store!” And Kim is thinking that she may not be able to enjoy one of her favorite combination breakfasts here up north: fried chicken and waffles. Yes, fried chicken and waffles – for breakfast. How have we not discovered that trend up this way? Sounds delightful to me.
Like any newcomer to New England, Kim is enjoying the beauty of New Hampshire, claiming it’s a “different kind of natural aesthetic, a different kind of beauty.” Kim is also basking in the thought of ice skating and attempting to build a snowman “bigger than three inches.”
It’s all pretty exciting and even makes me look around with a different perspective. I’ve been taking for granted that we can cross country ski here in NH AND go downhill. Or, as Kim referred to it, “Slope skiing.”
Alas, for Kim, there will undoubtedly be challenges of driving in sleet, snow and ice, despair in the darkness of our winter months, and maybe even frustration that her delicate winter flats have not made it to January.
Alas, as I muse joyfully about upcoming winter months, there are two words that will most definitely delight Kim in her first year teaching here in NH: Snow Day.
And may you muse joyfully on your own sense of place wherever you are … I’ll see you next week, unless, of course, there is a snow day.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, debuts her new column “Joyful Musings” at InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.