As of last week, John and I have lived in the Triangle of North Carolina for seven years. That is a long time!! I grew up in Connecticut, and I think if you had asked me as a child where I would live when I was an adult, my answer would have been somewhere in New England. But, here we are :)
To mark seven years, I thought it would be fun to share a few things I miss about New England, and a few things I love about North Carolina. First up, 12 of my favorite things about New England in general, and particularly the lovely corner of southeastern Connecticut I call(ed) home:
1. Living near the water. There’s a reason this one is first. Growing up, the ocean was 10 minutes from our house, and a backdrop to so many of my childhood memories. I think living near the water just makes everything better and more scenic — a picnic, an early morning or early evening walk, ice cream, a first job selling shaved ice (speaking from experience here), a bike ride… I really miss not having easy access to the ocean, the sound of crashing waves, and that wildly beautiful salt air smell.
2. Dels. The perfect accompaniment to a day at a Rhode Island beach!
3. Plush, soft grass. In New England, the cool, green grass just beckons you to sit on it — unlike Southern grass, which, if you’re able to keep it alive at all, is usually dry and scratchy. The smell of fresh cut grass is also my favorite smell in the world, so I like that it has to be cut more often up north!
4. Charming downtowns. Every coastal community in Connecticut is more charming than the next — from Stonington, to Mystic, to Noank, Madison, Chester, Deep River, and right on down the line. Quaint storefronts, flag-lined streets, stone seawalls, beach roses, general stores, geraniums overflowing their pots, picket fences… you know the look :)
5. Screen doors. I miss screen doors so much!! A neighborhood full of screen doors just seems friendly – it’s easier to see who’s home, and you can hear that lovely summer mingle of sounds (insects buzzing, kids laughing, lawn mowers mowing…) even if you’re inside. Unfortunately, screen doors are just not practical here in the land of AC and spring pollen!
6. Giant trees. Because the neighborhoods in New England are older, they generally avoided the fate of new neighborhoods down here — where every single tree gets razed to make way for building :( (I can rant about this for hours.) I LOVE New England’s huge old trees, tree-lined streets, and tree-shaded lawns so much.
7. Better ice cream shops. For starters, on balance, New England ice cream is just straight-up better than North Carolina ice cream. The shops tend to be in more scenic locations, too. Secondly, I have found that New England ice cream scoopers are uniformly more delightful than Southern scoopers. In New England, scooping ice cream is at the top of the teenage job pyramid — the best, brightest, most smiley and sparkling get the jobs. In the South, those kids go to work at Chick-fil-a :)
8. Stone walls. Few things warm my heart more than a centuries-old stone wall. My parents’ house and John’s parents’ house both have them in abundance, but that’s nothing particularly noteworthy — they’re everywhere! They run along the road, divide pastures, border hiking trails… and look adorable and stately while doing it.
9. Apple picking. It’s not fall for me without a visit to a pick-your-own apple orchard and a cup of cider and a cider donut at Clyde’s. There are orchards in North Carolina, but the best ones are a few hours away, in the mountains — as opposed to Connecticut, where there’s almost literally an orchard in John’s backyard! Delicious apples + crisp, cool fall air and blue skies = fall perfection.
10. New England architecture. Give me weathered shingles, classic colors, granite front stoops, and copper lanterns anytime! Of course, this house is my favorite example :)
11. Larger lots, woods, and open space. Growing up, my house sat on an acre of land, and our lot backed up to an overgrown farm. This is very common in Connecticut, and I adore it. I think having the freedom to roam through woods and streams is so important for kids, and I wish more of these types of neighborhoods existed in the Triangle.
12. Proximity to the Island. Finally, being just five hours from this pretty place would be a dream!!
This post might make you wonder why I don’t still live in New England — but I assure you, there are many things I love about North Carolina! They’ll be coming to a blog near you very soon :) In the meantime, I’d love to hear: if you’ve visited New England, what was your favorite part?