What is unique to the New Hampshire home? Is it the boots by the door? The shovel standing by the walk? The Christmas lights still up in February? Hmmm.
I was pondering this question after a friend asked why I had a birthday calendar in my bathroom. I told her, having lived for years in Holland, it was unusual not to have a list of monthly birthdays located in any Dutch bathroom, usually right next to the commode for optimal viewing.
"Wow," she remarked, "that's different."
And, well, I guess it is — but not to the Dutch, who treat birthdays as major events, no matter what the year, what the age. When the calendar is in the smallest room in the house, one is reminded pretty often whose birth is due to be celebrated. Hard to forget.
And this got me thinking, is there anything especially unique to New Hampshire, to New England homes that stand out?
A Puerto Rican friend told me it was common for kitchens on her tropical island home to always have a deep fryer on the counter. I love the idea of a perennial deep fryer out for use, but somehow I think my crock pot is the constant on my counter. A deep fryer makes an occasional guest appearance, but that crock pot is a regular — I've had a beef stew going since November.
Would the crock pot be the equivalent to the Dutch calendar? I wonder. Maybe the New Hampshire regular is not in the kitchen at all. Could it be the bird feeder? Those birds have been feasting all fall, all winter and I'm sure will chow well into spring. I cannot imagine not having them to entertain me during my breakfast. And I replace the seed in summer with hummingbird nectar. Is this unique to New Hampshire? To New England? I hesitate to say yes; those birds do get around and seem popular just about everywhere. Even Alcatraz had its own bird man.
In the early '80s, I visited relatives in Ireland and travelled with a friend whose people also came from the Emerald Isle. In every house we visited we spotted portraits of John F. Kennedy, Pope John Paul II and Jesus on the walls. It seemed almost a requirement that the trio greet us in these Irish abodes.
Do we have the same here? I do have Pope Francis on my fridge but suffice it to say, I've not spotted him in too many other homes.
Could our constant be a portrait of Governor Hassan? Honestly, I don't know if I've ever seen her portrait in any home. Perhaps I could start a trend. It's time for your close up, Maggie.
Well, as we're still surrounded by snow, I'm going to stick with the idea that just about every New Hampshire home has some form of snow removal: a shovel, a plow, a snow blower, a rake, a car brush or scraper.
Romantic? Cute? Interesting? Sorry, none of the above. Practical, yes. And absolutely necessary well into spring. But then come May we can take out those hummingbird feeders and do some deep frying.
'Til then, stay warm and down to earth with some beef stew. And let us look forward to our own version of March madness here in New Hampshire with our shovels at the ready!
"Down to Earth" appears the third Tuesday of every month. Susan Dromey Heeter's other column, "Budget Vogue," appears the first Sunday of the month in the New Hampshire Sunday News' Lifestyles section.