Weekend Pundit's Guide To Country Living - Part V

I realize I've been remiss in regaling you with (mostly) true stories and northern New England wisdom, the kinds of things that will help visitors (or those thinking of moving here) survive...er...enjoy their time here.

Time: One thing that new residents and visitors seem to have a difficulty with is time. Not telling time so much as understanding that time moves at a different pace up here. While California is often seen as the capitol of 'laid back' it was actually invented here. The old saying “The hurrier I go the behinder I get” pretty well describes how we don't do things around here.

For instance I've seen too many people up here on vacation trying to jam in a month's worth of recreating into one or two weeks. They go home more exhausted than when they arrived and then they need time off to recuperate before they go back to work. It defeats the purpose of coming up here.

Folks have got to learn to slow down a bit. Not so much to the point that maƱana becomes the theme of their stay, but more like not trying to do too much in a single day. No one needs to go skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, shopping, and ice skating all before lunch. Nor is it necessary to go swimming, boating, water-skiing, jet-skiing, and playing video games at the arcades all between lunch and dinner. It's OK to kick back, sit on a lawn chair in the shade and read a good book or watch other folks recreating hard or even lie back and do nothing at all. Heck, folks are even allowed to take a nap any time they want. It's not like we're going to tell on you if that's what you want to do. Take a walk. Take a hike. Ride a bike. Go to a movie, maybe even a drive-in! Stop at a roadside ice cream stand and indulge yourself and your family. But for cryin' out loud, don't try to do it all at once. All anyone trying to do that will do nothing but tucker themselves out.

For those moving here to live rather than to recreate, some of the same advice applies. Also. don't over-schedule things, particularly your kids' extracurricular activities. They don't need to play soccer, football, basketball, field hockey, ice hockey, golf, run track, cross-country ski, etc. in order to be 'complete'. Allow them some time to be just kids, to hang out and play with their friends. And whatever you do don't fall into the habit of 'play dates'. Save that crap for the city. You didn't move here just to do exactly the same things you moved from the city to get away from, did you? If you did, then why did you bother to move up this way in the first place?

Next, something near and dear to my heart – Driving:

One thing that visitors and new residents learn the hard way is that the posted speed limits are pretty well enforced on the smaller highways and town roads. The police seem to give more leeway on the Interstates, but even that is subject to change without notice. While there are stretches of road that appear to have an artificially low speed limit, it's usually because there are farm or logging operations going on somewhere along that road, so the speeds are kept down in order to make it easier for the farmers and logging truck drivers to pull out onto the road. Farm tractors don't move very quickly and fully loaded logging trucks take a while to get up to speed. Give them time and space to do so. It's the courteous thing to do, something that we take quite serious around here.

Another thing – that doodad on the left side of your steering wheel is called a turn signal. Learn how to use it, and use it before you actually make a turn rather than after in order to show us what it is you just did. (I believe that's something endemic to the People's Republic of Massachusetts because it's mostly folks in cars with Massachusetts plates that pull that little stunt.)

Even though we don't have many toll plazas on the highways here, we do have a few. A word to the wise – pay attention to the signs showing the EZ-Pass and the Cash lanes. Zipping across three lanes of traffic to get into the correct lane because you weren't paying attention during the two miles before the tool booths is not just uncool, but dangerous and likely to lead you to handing even more cash over the state for your bonehead move.

One thing that a lot of folks from away have a tough time getting used to is stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. City folk might not think it's all that important, but around here the pedestrians have the right of way. That, and you must also remember that some of them carry guns. So be polite and stop for those crossing the street, even if they aren't in a crosswalk.

Okay, that takes care of the driving part of this post. Let's move on.

Trash: One thing that we really like up here in northern New England is the scenic beauty that surrounds us. We try hard to keep it clean for both visitors and the folks living here. All that we ask is that you do your part, too. In other words, clean up after yourselves. Trash belongs in a trash barrel, not along the side of a road or a hiking trail, and certainly not in the rivers, lakes, or streams. While we enjoy the fact that tourists like to come here, enjoy our scenery, partake of the various recreation opportunities, for the most part we are not your servants and we don't take kindly to people trashing our home. This applies to every country town, no matter where it is, so please clean up after yourselves.

I'll close out this post with a quote from Lorrie Baird that explains a very important concept that visitors must understand:

Only the people who live here and pay taxes have earned the right to complain about local services – which is almost a sport around here.

To be continued.........