Friday, June 16, 2000
A Myth Destroyed
Another myth down the drain. Or should I say, down the picket fence?
"New England?" my friends groaned when learning of my family's departure from California to Massachusetts. "You'll never meet anyone. They're all so cold and unfriendly there."
Nasty words, but my friends were only reiterating the stereotype they'd heard many times of the New England temperament, its people, not its weather.
So we moved to our Carlisle home a little over a month ago, and I was prepared to feel pretty isolated and lonely. Everyone had big yards, and dogs and horses for companionship. Who needed to be friendly?
The day after the moving van departed, leaving us with stacks of boxes and not a clue of where everything belonged, a family of four, plus their German visitor and wagging-tailed black Lab, walked merrily up our front drive and encountered us, sweating and disheveled, with a colorful paper plate of just baked chocolate chip cookies.
"Welcome," they said with smiles, and we all stood outside our front stoop and talked for over half an hour.
An anomaly, I thought. We just happen to have wonderful people who live behind our backyard. How lucky for us.
Two hours later, as the sun was thinking of setting, a husband and wife walked across the street from their house, still several acres away from our unpacked debacle. They introduced themselves, and when it became obvious that the conversation was not just a quickie 'We're Mr. and Mrs. so and so, goodbye,' we invited them in to continue our conversation of moving nightmares, horses, teenage children, New England weather, and apple farms, not necessarily in that order.
The next day, more neighbors arrived to welcome us with smiles and wishes for a wonderful Carlisle life. An elderly gentleman who is retired and has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years wrote us the sweetest note about the joys of Carlisle living. We felt gladly overwhelmed with the kindliness of our neighbors.
What happened to frosty New Englanders? What happened to aloof residents who couldn't care the least about a new family moving into town? Where did this myth ever come from?
Off for my daily walk early this morning, I decided to trot down a corner street and onto a trail I'd never seen before. I (literally) ran into a woman walking by herself amongst the thicket of bush, maple and oak. I breathlessly asked her where the trail led. That one simple question led us to a delightful 45-minute walk through the tiny trails of Carlisle, stepping into mushy puddles, across horse droppings, and over thick twigs as we talked about children and schools and jobs. This woman knew only that I was new to Carlisle, lived a few streets from her, and also loved to walk amidst the early morning dew.
If this is unfriendly, I'll become part of the New England myth any day!
Pamela Wright lives on River Road
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito