Neo-neocon's handy guide to northern New Englanders
Here are some lesser-known facts about folks who live in New England. And by "New England," I mean the part I know best, northern New England--that is, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.
Actually, I'm not so sure about Vermont any more. Vermont seems to be populated these days mostly by outsiders such as myself (I've only lived in New England since 1969, after all). Connecticut? It ain't New England. Any state that is composed half of Yankee rather than Red Sox fans is not New England. Sorry. Massachusetts? Borderline. Rhode Island? What's that? (Just a joke, folks, please don't send me angry e-mails--but you have to admit it is rather small).
Fact A: New Englanders don't use umbrellas.
These last few days it's been back to the cold-and-rainy-Seattle-in-winter scenario, weatherwise. Yesterday at the supermarket I reluctantly got out of my car, pushed the button on my umbrella that automatically opens it (love that thing!) and huddled under it as I raced in to do my shopping, when I noticed that I was the only person around using an umbrella.
It's not the first time I've noticed this. New Englanders are hardy; they laugh at the weather. They scorn people "from away" who feel they will melt if a little rain falls on them, even if it's 48 degrees and windy and the rain chills them to the bone.
Fact B: New Englanders don't use garages.
Actually, I want to amend that--they use them, just not for cars. When I first lived here, people would often say something like this to me, "We went by your house the other day and were going to stop by, but we figured you weren't home because your car wasn't in the driveway." I found this puzzling--my car was usually in the garage, I'd say--and they looked back at me equally puzzled. Car? In a garage?
No, garages in New England are for storage. Even during the five or so months a year that we get a great deal of snow, and leaving a car in a garage would just seem to make sense, people here prefer to leave them out and dig around them. And it's not that the homes lack storage, either--most have large attics and deep basements and a storage shed or two on the property. So the garage thing remains a mystery, but I think it must be connected to the umbrella thing.
Fact C: If you weren't born here, forget about it.
It's not that people won't be cordial. But you'll always be somewhat of a stranger.
Fact D: Women mow the lawns.
It's not an absolute rule, but it's pretty much the case. Years ago a relative was visiting from California and pointed this out to me (I'd never noticed it before, but after that I noticed it often). Actually, what he said one day when we were driving around sightseeing, was this, "I'm going to move here. The men don't have to mow the lawns."
Fact E: New Englanders love ice cream.
So what, you say. Doesn't everybody? Well, New Englanders love it more, and they have less reason to, because we have more cold weather (see this by authorities Ben and Jerry on the subject, as well as this: New England is known for its high ice cream consumption, no matter what the season...).
I try to be part of this important New England tradition, especially if the ice cream is ginger (I know, I know--I'll probably take a lot of flak for admitting that. But, have you ever tried it?) Ice cream stands dot the land, and although they close for the winter, they define "winter" somewhat narrowly. They tend to reopen when the weather is still very cold, and you can see stalwart souls standing out there in near-blizzard conditions, indulging in the long-awaited pleasures of their favorite cones. Very hardy folk indeed.