I miss the mountains

This time of year, I get a very specific wanderlust that  always involves going north, to the mountains. I was never lucky enough to live in New England, but my father was born and raised in western Maine, just 30 miles from the Canadian border. I’ve had one Yankee foot since I was old enough to understand that I was born in Boston, not Pennsylvania.

Throughout most of my life, being “down the shore” was always my favorite summer treat. I still love the ocean—don’t get me wrong—but some time in the mid-90s, the mountains of New England stole my heart. Every year since, when summer comes, I begin to yearn—there is no other word for it—for the mountains up north, and the sweeping crystalline lakes, as blue as a June sky, that punctuate them.

Just about wherever you go in New England, the mountains are with you. At the “Height of the Land” on the way to the Rangeley Lakes region in Maine, you can see Canada on one side, New Hampshire on the other, and Mooselookmeguntic Lake beneath. It’s hard to imagine a more breathtaking landscape—that’s one view in the photo above. Click the links to learn more, including the real truth about the lake’s interesting name, which the natives simply call “Mooselook.” And if you want to have your cake and eat it, too, drive up the coast to Bar Harbor and take in the view at Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, where the mountains meet the sea.

By the way, I’m so grateful to our relatives up north, who always welcome us warmly and share their favorite places with us.

Photo: Mooselook, in the Rangeley Lake Region.

Note: “I Miss the Mountains” is an absolutely gorgeous song from the Broadway musical, Next to Normal. I borrowed the title for this post but, unfortunately, the song has nothing to do with mountains. Still, it’s worth a listen.

 

 

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In the footsteps of the stonecutters…

We make frequent trips to New England, partly because we love it so, partly because we have both roots and family there. Our visits often begin and end at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s home in Vermont. On one such visit, we took a fascinating field trip to, of all places, a cemetery.

But not just any cemetery.  I had a specific reason for wanting to see Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT,  where the Italian immigrant stonecutters crafted magnificent monuments for themselves, their loved ones, their co-workers, with staggering Old World skill. Vermont, it turns out, isn’t just about the magnificent Green Mountains, but also about what lies beneath. Vermont calls itself the “granite capital of the world,” and Danby Quarry in Vermont is billed as “the largest marble quarry in the world.”

Apart from seeing the legendary sculptures that mark Hope Cemetery’s graves,  I knew that at least one of my great or great-great uncles, immigrants from the village of Centrache in Calabria, had worked in a marble or granite quarry in Vermont. I wondered if perhaps he’d been buried in Hope Cemetery.

I plodded through one website after another, trying to find a family name among the available records of  quarry workers  and cemetery maps. Although the on-line search came up dry, and I never found a headstone with a familiar name, I still felt  a satisfying sense of lineage walking through the cemetery.