Dear Auntie Mac

Dear Auntie Mac,

At my son’s insistence, I relocated to Hampton last fall from an upscale, suburban neighborhood in the South. Shortly after my arrival, my son’s company transferred him to another state for a few months, leaving me alone in this ridiculously small town. I haven’t the means to become a snowbird, and I’m too old to gallivant around the area in slippery months, but I don’t know how I’ll ever endure another winter here. Just what does one do in a place so evidently devoid of culture? I doubt there’s even anything worth reading in what appears to be a poor excuse for a library. Ideas?

Bored to Tears

My Dear Neighbor:

On behalf of everyone north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I do apologize for the rather challenging winter temperatures that we endure here. I assure you that to a person, each of us swears that next year we will repair to one of your upscale suburban neighborhoods in the South without fail. And yet…we remain. Foolishness? Far from it. Sloth? Hardly. A narrow worldview? Please.

Your Auntie Mac remembers a trip she took several years ago to a remote island in Prince William Sound. She admits that she had to be stuffed forcibly into the boat by her traveling companion, who thought it would be great fun to ruin a perfectly good summer by visiting a locale similar to Yakutsk, Siberia. Upon approaching the island she prepared herself for an afternoon of ticks, mud, cold snacks and the guide’s coma-inducing description of sea life. As we landed, the rattiest looking fellow she had ever seen was ambling out of the scrub brush towards the shore, waving madly at us. At last it’s happened, she thought to herself: I’ve died and gone to hell. He was ever so delighted to see us, and urged us to follow him down a ladder into what appeared to be a cold war-era bunker. My dear, I was not amused.  But what I found at the foot of that ladder forever changed my once-ingrained habit of leaping to conclusions about the ability of a place to surprise me. For in this cavern was one of the most complete and esoteric private libraries I had ever encountered. This scrawny, filthy-bearded fellow was a poet, philosopher and student of geopolitical discourse, and we spent a fascinating afternoon discussing Sartre, the Chicago School of Economics and its implications in a post-NAFTA world, the difficulty of getting a reservation at Le Cirque, and why a DeKooning is far superior to a Rothko.  All while dining on salmon pate and mint tea.

My point, dear, is that you cannot begin to know what secrets a small town possesses until you take it upon yourself to begin to explore them. From the more than extensive library to the cultural/historical organizations to the countless civic participation opportunities just begging to be seized, Hampton is, as I’m sure your son has told you, a virtual cultural mecca. It is also a place of remarkable beauty whatever the season.  And unlike my Alaska experience, it is all above ground. As far as I know. Visit the town’s website, read the Gazette, say hello to everyone at the Town Hall and ask what’s going on. The “slippery months” will fly by…and you will miss them.

Auntie Mac