There’s nothing quite like the open road in northern New England — quaint, narrow back roads that weave in and out of secluded historic small towns, long stretches of highway framed by towering green giants and rolling grassy hillsides, and the ever-present reminder that we live in 2013 — a pair of golden arches peeking above the trees in the distance.
In late July, I asked my 77-year-old mother to accompany me on a road trip from western Massachusetts through the peaceful countryside of Vermont, and on to the glorious mountain ranges of Franconia, N.H., to visit my daughter, and she agreed. The trip would include light hiking, dining out, multiple shopping excursions and, hopefully, a few laughs.
Once on the road, our discussions touched on family eccentricities, childhood memories and current events. Halfway there we visited the “Golden Arches,” where I learned of mom’s love for iced coffee. On arriving in Franconia, we ate lunch at an earthy-crunchy eclectic deli fashioned with worn cushy couches, went to a private sale hosted by the company where my daughter was interning, and later met her at a dimly lit martini bar in Littleton, N.H. We laughed about mom tickling the keys on one of Littleton’s artsy sidewalk pianos, listened to my daughter recount her work day and then told the tale of the private sale.
“Your mother was like a machine,” Mom said, laughing about me stuffing garbage bags with discounted bedding and dragging them through the crowded store. The evening continued with my daughter teaching her grandmother how to use Instagram over salad, salmon and chilled glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.
Later, we talked over tea in my daughter’s apartment and then settled in for the night; the double bed for mom and the bunks for the girls. The next day, as we rushed mom through her makeup ritual to make an early breakfast, papa bear sat outside the bedroom window looking wistfully at the bird feeders located far overhead. Mom took a hesitant peek, quietly shrieked and retreated quickly.