We left Alamosa on a warm afternoon in late February. Sammy, our mover, was a Mexican-American from―frankly, to my surprise―the aforementioned Clinton, Massachusetts. I drove the pickup that pulled our 23-foot travel trailer; Linda drove the SUV; and we divided the four dogs between us. We spent six nights on the road to Maine, sleeping in Brush, Colorado; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; Utica, New York; and Warner, New Hampshire, where my sister and brother-in-law lived. Shortly after crossing into New York State, we exited I-90 and pulled into an empty lot gleaming with snow in the town of Ripley. As we let the dogs wander, I ceremoniously brought a pinch of the fresh snow to my lips. New York! Where I went to college, had my first legal beer, lost my virginity, dropped acid for the first time!
Four days later we closed on house #4 at a lawyer’s office in downtown Gorham. Shortly thereafter, we arrived at the house on a dead-end road. The neighborhood was covered with a couple feet of old, graying ice and snow. Bruce, one of our new neighbors, was helping Sammy jockey his massive rig to an optimal unloading place. It was the first of many occasions in which Bruce would help us.
After several days we established a modicum of order in the house. The 35-year-old structure was a variation on the common New England Cape Cod style. It had a second floor and a unfinished basement, which meant stairways, a new element in our homeowning experience. The front of the house had a small, screened-in porch. The detached, pitched-roof, two-car garage had a large attic. The house sat on a little more than an acre, two-thirds of which was lawn, shrubbery, and groundcover. Trees of all sizes―white pine, maple, oak, birch, hemlock, larch―guarded, hugged, and canopied our house. The remaining one-third acre was densely wooded: our own little parcel of Maine wilderness. Nearly all of the fifteen or twenty other properties on our three-quarter-mile-long road were of similar size. We no longer had the wide-open surroundings we enjoyed in southern New Mexico and Colorado; on the other hand, I was grateful for the privacy and solitude provided by the crush of trees.