When I was younger, I would occasionally travel up to Holliston, Massachusetts to visit my grandparents. I remember loving these trips because the atmosphere of the town felt like being warmed by the sun or embraced in a tight hug. I also loved seeing my grandparents.
Holliston was a place where everyone seemed to know everyone and treated one another with an abundance of kindness and trust. It was a refreshing change from where I grew up. I can remember my grandfather, kneeling in the garden by the front porch, the windchimes humming a soft unfamiliar song while tall, yellow daffodils with thin green trunks were gently introduced to the earth by his weathered hands.
My grandfather was born in March and died in April. Every year, throughout March and April I usually find my thoughts revisiting Holliston and my grandfather planting daffodils in the garden. Henniker reminds me of Holliston, and every spring that I have had the pleasure of spending in Henniker, I feel the warmth of Holliston, which I am sure sounds very strange.
I have assuredly spent more time in Henniker than I ever did in Holliston, and both of these towns carry different meanings and are wrapped up in different memories. My time at New England College is winding down; I know I might have another year at most. Although I find myself buried in troubling thoughts of what do I do now and where do I go next and what will happen if…I try to redirect my attention to some of my favorite parts of New England College and the Henniker I now call home.
Every Christmas the Rotary Club hangs giant emerald, green wreaths from the tops of the light posts in town and the Town Hall’s neighboring trees are strung in warm white lights. They start somewhere near the rustic reds of the Henniker pharmacy and trail downtown and through campus. I like that the people at the bank, the pharmacy, and the café all know the townspeople’s names, even mine. I love my old neighbor who lives across the street from the apartment I live in; he unburied my car after a big storm this past December. I stuck a thank you note in his dented mailbox and he sent me back a thank you note for my thank you note.
I love running down by the river, kicking in my blue Asics; I cut down and around towards the softball fields because sometimes the horses are out, dragging their hooves through the short blades of grass and thick spring mud. At night, I like the feeling of walking back from a late class or lab when the big lights that dip down between the front pillars of the Science Building are shining through the dark like a nerdy runway.
I remember feeling at home when climbing up the steep mountainous stairs of Tower, a building on campus, to the NewEnglander meeting room and plopping myself down on a cramped, springy couch. I loved that all my professors knew every student’s name and made classrooms feel like a living room.
I remember one April, during my sophomore year, me and a few of my friends went to some sort of formal that was held in the Great Room. We ended up leaving early, fleeing back to the dorms to change out of our dress clothes and then running over to the Covered Bridge and down by the edges of the Contoocook River. We all sat by the river and talked for what felt like forever and when we got hungry, we cut through the woods and across the street to Coco’s (College Convenience) to buy Cheetos and cheap wine.
It’s all the silly, seemingly small memories and moments between people and places that I look back on as some of my favorites. Some of the small pieces that build the bigger picture and seem to connect to other small pieces, even though they are very different.
Every year, during late April and early May, when daffodils are peppering the earthy brown patches of the Simon Green I, of course, think about my grandfather. But I also think of graduation and what new and exciting experiences will transpire ahead. Daffodils are a sign of rebirth and new beginnings, and I can only hope that the new is as good as the old.