One of the things that I really love about New Hampshire is that profligate living doesn’t travel well up here.
In L.A., if you build a big house on the top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific, everyone goes into a state of orgasmic ecstasy. No one seems to mind that the next big rainstorm may convert it into a beach house.
In New Hampshire, however, if someone builds an inaccessible home on a hilltop up a mile-long driveway, the natives will spend the next 20 years laughing at the idiot, and imagining his plow bills and heating expenses when the wind is blowing and it’s five degrees above zero. As cousin Shirley says, if I want to look at the damn view that bad, I can just climb up to the fire tower.
Actually, while we all want to have enough money, the really big money gets very impatient up here. There aren’t that many ways to spend it. People have been known to use it to build private golf courses, but these can turn out to be so private that only the bankruptcy attorneys meet there. And putting together a huge wardrobe of designer original clothes doesn’t impress much, either. For many of us, a designer original is something like Uncle Elmer’s new roof heating system. Clothes, up here, especially in the winter, are just layers of fabric to keep out the cold and protect our butts when we slip on the ice.
Of course, the high livers can always buy several of those really expensive luxury cars, like a Rolls Royce or a Lamborghini, which will really look good in their garage. But they will still need a Hummer or Land Rover to get around most of the year. And the natives will still be laughing at the fact that they have to bring a lunch every time they need to fill the tank.
And speaking of garages, what about the houses some of these people are attaching to them? Old lake camps are getting torn down and replaced with 10-bedroom mansions that are empty most of the year. The only impression it makes on us is a hearty thank-you from the taxman for helping to keep taxes lower for the rest of us — and a warm feeling knowing there is probably some other incredibly discerning individual out there who may pay us millions for our little camp when it comes time to sell.
Overall, I would say that the citizens don’t impress easily up here. We surely do like the tourist money and try to provide some real nice places for people to spend it. But if you are going to live up here, be prepared to lower the profile.
We still live with the old-fashioned idea that money should be spent wisely, even if you have a lot of it. We don’t need any darn fools running up the prices of our fancy restaurants like the Turkey Farm or the Flying Goose. And we especially don’t want some transplanted city slickers trying to make a fashion statement down at the bagel shop. NH
Glenn K. Currie of Concord is the author of two books of poetry and photography, “Daydreams” and “Riding in Boxcars.” Both are available from www.snapscreenpress.com.
This article appears in the April 2007 issue of New Hampshire Magazine