Wild Light

Another day in the North Country. I drove home over the notch tonight around 7 p.m., just in time to catch the sun streaming through the clouds onto the mountain. I had to stop and run down to the river to take a picture, which, as usual, doesn’t do the moment justice. Even after I took the photos I kept catching glimpses as I drove south on Route 16.

A little further on, almost to the AMC Pinkham Notch visitors center, a couple cars were pulled over near the north end of the pond at the height-of-land. That’s a sign I’ve come to know well that there’s a moose about, and I slowed to grab a photo. It didn’t come out well, but seeing as I’ll likely see another dozen before the month is over I didn’t wait around for a better angle.

I went out on a tour of Lake Umbagog with Senator Jeanne Shaheen last year. She kept hoping to see a moose as we motored around the refuge. The other day there was a moose on East Milan Road, and barely a motorist blinked. In the North Country residents are accustomed to the extraordinary. They love the woods and the rivers and the wildlife, but to them it’s always there. I think about how different the rest of the state is in that regard. Someone asked me several weeks ago what I thought the North Country represents to New Hampshire residents. I think today I got a better idea of my answer. It is where the sunsets are stunning, and the moose share the road, and where the forests seem endless and inviting. It is reassuring to the rest of the state, both in the spirit of the residents who remain there and in the land that has endured there. It is a long way from being diluted through emigration, and it retains the essence of live free or die that has been slowly eradicated further south. It is a wilderness, in their view, though more often forgotten than not.

And I get to live it everyday. Amen.

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