Why People Love New England

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Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Bass Harbor, Maine.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Bass Harbor, Maine.

All photos/art by Brenda Darroch

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Brenda Darroch

A few weeks ago, a reader named Dawn Rigoni left this comment on my blog: “… I’m one of those people who is ‘homesick for New England’ even though I’ve never lived there. I’ve dreamed of living in Vermont ever since I was little, even though I’ve never been; my favorite school librarian moved away to Weathersfield, Vermont, when I was a child and sent me a postcard, and ever since, I’ve felt that my heart belongs to a place I’ve never set foot in … Please know how fortunate you are to live in such a beautiful corner of the world!”

I’ve heard this often in my years here at Yankee — letters and calls from distant places from people who feel they belong to a region they’ve never seen. It’s as though they have a memory in their hearts of New England. Now I don’t imagine that in that yearning they consider negotiating a rotary in Boston, or crawling along Storrow Drive at 5 p.m., or shoveling out after a nor’easter, or even working in the garden with blackflies swarming in May. I think they dream of small towns, stone walls, beacons of light, seas pounding on rocks, pine trees and maples, sugar shacks, town meetings, country stores, rolling hills, and town greens — all those markers that tell us where we are when we’re here.

I don’t think New Englanders feel this way about distant places — at least none I know. Oh, every winter, especially during a cold snap, or when spring takes forever to bloom, I hear friends talking about sunny climes and tropical breezes — but that’s escape talk, fleeting and understandable, not a bone-deep feeling like the one my correspondent, Dawn, describes.

I wonder how many of us who live here take New England for granted. It’s the easiest thing to do, like looking at the face of a loved one so often that you no longer really see it. This is what happened in the ’60s and ’70s, and even into the ’80s, when some of the most cherished and historic houses in various towns and cities in New England fell to wrecking balls. In their place rose condo complexes, parking lots, home developments, and department stores. We forgot how lovely those faces were.

Yankee travels to some of the most beautiful places in the region, all of which were preserved by people who never forgot to see. We’re lucky — among the luckiest people anywhere. I hope one day Dawn Rigoni gets to see for herself.

  • I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD, but my dad’s company did business in CT, RI and MA. As a result, we visited southern New England frequently when I was a kid, and I fell in love with it. My dad also had a Navy buddy from Enfield, CT with kids around our ages and we took turns visiting each other. Eventually, I got a job that moved me to CT. My first residence was in South Norwalk which didn’t really feel like New England. Fortunately, my job transferred me to beautiful Simsbury, CT, which I loved. I later was relocated to Claremont, NH, which was just a bit too rough and rundown for my taste – poverty everywhere. If I could afford it, I would love to live in Massachusetts on the North Shore.

  • I was born and raised in beautiful CT and come from a very long line of New Englanders. After graduating college (also in CT) I moved to a Carribean island for a job opportunity. I got so homesick for my home state I only lasted two years. It is too bad that the state has become so expensive that many people and businesses are leaving.

  • Dawn… We share the same soulful longing and dream. You articulated my heart perfectly. I have to share with you that my dream came true, and it came to be in the most unexpected and despairing way. I will be living in New England in 10 more days in a coastal town with 2 lighthouses! I know the universe will bring you there too someday because your soul is meant to be there like mine. Never give up …

  • Don’t be too discouraging Emily..ha ha… I’ve been in NH most of my life; I’ve lived in several other states as well, but NH is home. NH gets quite cold as well, but its not forever. I think if anyone wants to move to the New England area, all I can say is, “Welcome! You’ll love it here!” and I hope Dawn Rigoni has had an opportunity by now to come see how beautiful it is!

  • I was born in Portsmouth and grew up in Dover. My aunt had a campground in Wells, ME for 40 years. My parents grew up in West Medford. MA so holidays were spent visiting both sides of our family because we were then “from away”.
    I married a submariner and moved to CT when I was 30, we moved to South Carolina for two years, what a culture shock!!!
    We returned to CT for three years then we moved to Northern Virginia. My boys and I go “home” every August and try for at least one other trip a year. My roots are pretty deep, NE will always be home to me!! God’s country!! <3 <3

  • I was born in Hill,N.H. in 1934, lived in Tilton and Franklin N>H until I was 9 then moved to N.J with my family. Married and moved to Ga. I went back to N.H. many times as all of my relatives lived there. I left a lot of history in N.H. and Mass. as my maiden name was Dustin related to Hannah Dustin . from the 1600. There are no states that can compare to the New England States.

    Ann Hynko Nov.3,2015

  • I was born in Webster Mass but raised in the North Grosvenordale/Putnam Connecticut area….I joined the Air Force at 17 and served 23 plus years….I am now living in the Pensacola Florida but miss New England especially during the Fall season..

  • giving you a heads up Dawn Rigoni, New England, especially VT gets nasty cold. You might want want to think about that before moving here

  • I was born in Vermont (Brattleboro), grew up in New Hampshire, went to college in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and then fell in love with a man from Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Cincinnati. The relationship didn’t last forever, and I’m still here, adrift in the Midwest. I miss New England every single day and would move back tomorrow if I could find a job opportunity or win the lottery. I will always be a New Englander.

  • Born & raised in Trumbull, Connecticut. But with my parents being born in Nova Scotia and a paternal grandmother who came a from a large family near Billerica, Massachusetts, I spent most of my childhood and teen years visiting through most of New England, especially along the coast of Maine. It is still one of my favorite places. My wife if from Iowa and fell in love with Maine when I brought her there not long after we were married…..and that love of New England extends you our daughters. We have lived for 29 years in Columbus, Ohio, but would go back to Maine and New England for good if the situation is right.

  • Katrina

    I was raised in Texas but I am dreaming of a life in Massachusetts. Everything about New England is just glorious.

  • Deborah

    Dawn, I lived in the south all my life. I am 48 yrs old. Like you I have always been drawn to New England. This is my happy place. I live in CT now following my dreams I moved here. I know this is where I will spend the rest of my life. I am here now with my son, and its more beautiful than you can imagine. If you want to live in a place that feeds your soul, this is it. Its everything you imagine and described and more.

    Thank you for sharing

  • I was born in Northampton and my family left Mass for Florida when I was two. I didn’t get back to NE until I was 28. I don’t know how to explain it any other way except it just grabs you. I felt an immediate connection with everything and everyone as soon as I got there. It was great seeing the old family home. I went with a friend whose grandfather still lived there and knew my family. we sat on his front porch, drank brandy to keep warm and talked about home and family. Our families were owners of the Draper Motel if anyone remembers that place. Whew! Before my time. Mt. Greylock was spectacular. I went back a few years later to inquire about some property and stayed in Lee Mass with a friend in a huge house at the bottom of October mt. I vowed to come back someday. I now have a friend in Conn. and I can work with her in the summers if I want. “I’m getting closer to my home.” as in the song by Grand Funk Railroad.(aging myself here). thank you for letting me comment on the best place on earth.

  • George

    My affection for New England and in particular for Maine comes because it reminds me of where I grew up. I live in New Jersey but from the age of four to the age of sixteen I lived in Seattle, Washington State. I always thought I would go back but that never happened. Maine has the same rocky coast that I remember as a boy in Washington, and the deep evergreen woods, lakes and rivers. Maine even has salmon albeit landlocks and not chinooks. The differences are that Maine has fewer people, tougher winters and lower mountains but the similarities are greater than the differences in my book. My affecton for Maine increased when my daugher went to the University of Maine (Orono). As I see it the Northeast and Northwest corners of this country are among the loveliest places in America. I’ve been fortunate enough to see both and I’m happy that at least Maine is close by. With luck my wife and I hope to retire there.

  • I am an Army Brat, my Dad spent 20+ yrs as a Soldier. I’ve lived up & down te East coast, but NE has always been my home. Princeton, MA by Mt Wachusett. I have very fond memories of my childhood there. long summer nights lietening to the breeze whispering thru the leaves at night. Beautiful winter days after a fresh snow, falling leaves in many colors int he fall. Many, many drives & hikes just enjoying Nature. There is NO better place than NE !

  • I was been born in Boston and later migrated to Los Angeles having married a Californian. Some 12 years and two daughters later, my husband (being California born) would always tell us how much nicer California was and how they did everything better. Well, after a few years, he began to tell everyone how much he loved NE and how much better it was than CA. So I guess that just about says it all.

  • Wow, Richard and Dawn both of you expressed eloquently your feelings about New England. Richard, anyone who has taken the first climb up Monandock with children will share similar memories. The mountain combines accessibility and “relative” ease with beauty and vistas. I bet your daughters will remember those steaks for the rest of their lives.Dawn the issue we are planiing that photo essay for is the March/April 2010 issue. (we do things far in advance to take advantage of our seasons. But hopefully every issue will bring you a sense of being here.


    Hello Mel;
    My name is Richard Ward and I was born in 1936 and raised in Lawrence Massachusetts.
    My second wife, who I met here in 1981 in Baltimore, Maryland and I live in the ourskirts of Baltimore.
    By the time 1958 came alone I was married and the father of three daughters and one son.
    To support my family, I took on a job as a tractor trailer driver.
    The company that I worked for manufactured paper products.
    Our products were delivered to woolen and paper mills all over New England.
    I remember the first time I drove up that long hill in Dublin in front of your Yankee office.
    I had a heavy load on and I had to down shift to the lowest gear that I could use.
    One of our customers was across the street on the street opposite your office.
    Being a photographer, it was a pleasure and delight to be able to drive during the four seasons in the Mount Monadnock area.
    I had detoured while driving through Dublin one day and ventured to the state park.
    I noticed that visitors could climb the mountain by way of three methods.
    I noticed a sign that read that folks could climb the mountain on foot by taking the white dot trail.
    This climb was for people that climbed and were unassisted by any ropes or other climbing gear.
    The other two climbing methods meant that you had to have climbing gear.
    As time and many delivery trips went by, I decided to climb the mountain on Labor Day weekend in 1977.
    I chose to take my two daughters along and not to tell them where we were going to go and what we were going to do.
    As we drove closer to the Dublin area MT. Monadnock came into view.
    I pointed to the mountain and said to them, “See that mountain?” ” We are going to climb it”
    They didn’t say anything about the mountain, but I’m sure they were wondering how we were going to climb it.
    We arrived at the state park and I surprised to see so many other visitors.
    They too had the same purpose-to climb the mountain.
    This are so many incidents that happened that day to describe and I would be all day writing this story.
    We started out with water and peanut butter and jelly on crackers.
    I had noticed that my daughters chose to eat most of the crackers on our climb.
    I warned them that they should save some for the clinb down.
    On the way up we were able to enjoy natural spring water that came trickling down from above.
    After two hours of slipping and sliding, we made it to the top.
    It was a beautiful sunny day and we could see for miles.
    My daughters chose to lie dawm while I took photos of climbers and the surrounding area.
    After we enjoyed the view my reminder my daughters not to get to comfortable.
    “We have a two hour climb back down” I reminded them.
    They sat up rested and we started back down.
    Nothing to eat or drink until we arrived at the spring along the trail.
    Two hours later we were back at our car.
    To prevent starvation, for me and my my girls, I had packed our charcoal grille, three T-bone steaks and a complete salad.
    We ate like a king and queens.
    It was an enjoyable adventure climbing that mountain and still today we reminisce about that day.
    Yes, I miss new England and every chance I get, we travel back.
    Uor next visit will be Labor Day to enjoy the Hampton Beach Sea Food Festival in Hampton, New Hampshire.
    Thanks for allowing me to tell my story about New England-

  • Dearest Mel,
    I am touched by your understanding of people like me, and infinitely pleased to know that you do, indeed, appreciate and hope to preserve the beauty and history of your home. I am looking forward to the Yankee issue you’ve mentioned containing photographs of the ‘most beautiful places in the region;’ this will be a true source of comfort to me, and most certainly a motivation towards realizing my dream of discovering New England for myself sooner rather than later.
    With warm regards, Dawn


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