What is New England? That question has as many answers as there are people living in this area. To begin with, it is an area of land, an area of the United States of America that is comprised of six states. Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont are the particular states included in the geographic area called New England. Neighboring states moving south and east are not considered part of New England.
Next, and perhaps more importantly, New England is a state of mind. People from New England share many common values, ideas, and ways of life, and of course the geographic elements. I drift between New England and the Mid-Atlantic States to the south, but I most certainly consider myself a New Englander. We share common colloquialisms, common sports teams (for most), common heritage and common ideas about the way we conduct ourselves in society.
If you get out in the country, and the world at large, it is fascinating how people recognize New Englanders relatively quickly. It could be the accent or it could be something deeper. It is very interesting and fun to consider what makes New England unique in the world. It certainly is a far cry from jolly olde England. Or is it? There is much to ponder.
Today’s book is one person’s collection of some associated items which she felt helped her to define New England. “A New England Scrapbook – A Journey through Poetry, Prose, and Pictures” was put together by Loretta Krupinski in 1994, and is available through HarperCollins Publishers out of New York City. It is a tidy little collection of beautiful art, wonderful poetry, some assorted prose and a lot of thoughtful descriptions of what makes up New England.
Loretta Krupinski is actually from Brooklyn, N.Y., but currently lives in Connecticut. She is an avid sailor, so that is most likely where she first began her love affair with the New England area, looking at the rocky coastlines and long, lush beaches from the water. The sailing history of our New England states is rich and full of wonderful history and tales of adventure. Krupinski has also received many accolades for her maritime paintings. She has illustrated a number of children’s books including “Dear Rebecca,” “How a Seed Grows,” “The Old Lady Who Liked Cats,” and “Winter is Here.” She illustrated for several different authors on these various projects. She has also won a number of prizes for scientific writing and social studies topics.
One poem that is included in the book which caught my fancy is called “The Lobsters and the Fiddler Crab” by Frederick J. Forster:
"The lobsters came ashore one night
In the Merry month of June,
And coaxed the fiddler crab to play
A rollicking tango tune.
The lobsters danced, the fiddler played
Till morning, rosy red,
Chased the dancers into the sea
And the fiddler home to bed!"
This is such a wonderful, playful and happy little poem that reminded me of one of my favorite things about New England, our delicious and fresh seafood, particularly the lobster!
This book gives a nice round look at some of our favorite topics including cranberries, maple syrup, barns, fog, the four distinct seasons and lighthouses and several others. The topics are just a few of the many varied things we love about our homeland, and would definitely open conversations and minds to add more topics that we feel add to the wonderful New England lifestyle.
If you have an interest in a nice conversation starter, a child-friendly walk through New England characteristics or just want to dream lazily about some of the things we love about New England, stop by your local bookstore or hop online and grab a copy of Loretta Lupinski’s “A New England Scrapbook – A Journey through Poetry, Prose, and Pictures” and see what comes to your mind thinking of our little piece of heaven on Earth.
Enjoy and read on!
Kerry Wholey is a freelance writer in Narragansett.