It feels good to break the shackles of a global pandemic and get back to a bona fide New Hampshire summer.

Finally, we can feel the wind whip through our hair while we speed across the water, shouting to our friends over the whir of the boat engine, “This is incredible!” Wait, did he say, “Watch out for that other boat!”?

Unleashed from the short radius around our homes, we’ll venture back to the White Mountains, where step by step, we can once again climb one of 4,000-footers to soak up the view from the top and relish the simplest of pleasures – a granola bar and a cool sip of water. Forget the blisters, of course.

Our bicycles are well-oiled and will carry us along trails traversing cool streams and glistening ponds. We need not worry about a small crowd in the trailhead parking lot any longer. But you’d be wise to remember the bug spray.

Most of all, we can return to the coast now that parking bans along Route 1A have been lifted. But make sure you leave early – summer is back, and the competition to get one of those coveted roadside parking spots will be fierce. We can put out our beach towels and umbrellas, curl our toes in the sand and go for a chilly dive in the waves.

Yes, yes, we’re all ready to get back to life as usual, but before we do, it’s worth considering some of the things COVID taught those of us who made it through with our good health.

Life slowed down during the pandemic. We went out less, drove fewer miles, stayed home more often, tended to our gardens, and finally made progress on that ever-growing list of projects. Given the threat of debilitating disease, the role of family in our lives became more clear. The pandemic highlighted how much we care about each other.

The wave of changes made us bristle at first, but looking back, it helped us appreciate a few of the tangible things in our community, like The Exchange with Laura Knoy (Page 20), and a few of the ethereal things, like looking out for more than ourselves, that we often take for granted.

It sure is time to get back out and return to all the things we love, complete with bugs, and crowds, and Massachusetts tourists, but let’s try not to lose sight of what we learned as we rush back to normal.

Let’s hope this becomes the summer of renewed contentment.


Jonathan Van Fleet