By: Daniel Thomas Moran
Like many who live in New Hampshire, I did not start life in New Hampshire. I was born in New York City and lived my life until 2009 on Long Island. Nassau County, the place in the suburbs where I grew up, takes up 453 square miles. For perspective, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, the place where I now live, is 955 sq. miles, roughly twice the size of Nassau County. But here is the contrast that counts. Merrimack presently has a population of 146,000 where Nassau has close to 1.4 million, some ten times as many. Should that sound a bit crowded, let me report that it surely is, and one is reminded of it every day in many, many ways. Despite that crush of humanity which, incidentally, sits beside New York City with its close to 9 million people, there is the ocean and the beaches. It is the great treasure of Long Island and many try to get there as often as possible to gain a view of the great distances facing south and breathe in the transcendent relief to the senses of sea air. My many days on those beaches in my youth are a fond and distant memory in my now elder years, and something I call to mind each yearly visit to my Dermatologist.
In our retirement years, my wife and I have determined to see as much of the world as we can manage and have, in the last twenty years, visited some forty different countries and had the privilege of enjoying the depth of experience to be found in each and all of them. As many travelers do, we often try to imagine living in each of those places and whether it might even be a good idea. Each of them holds some tugging magic that is hard to resist. In 2009, when we decided to leave Long Island so I could take a faculty position at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine, we decided something else. We wanted to own a home on a river. For some reason I have yet to explain, as we sat in an apartment in Boston’s South End, we felt that New Hampshire would be a good place to look for such a circumstance, and for no other reasons than that it was close to Boston and we had heard it was full of rivers. The day we arranged to meet a real estate broker, he told us how to find a place called Davisville, where we could leave our car. That day was the first time either my wife or myself had ever set foot in New Hampshire.
Being habitually early, we arrived and parked and realized that we were beside a river and I walked over the bridge nearby and looked downriver. What we saw was the river falling down and away in small rapids and agreed that such a thing with a house beside it would be just what we had in mind. But when the broker arrived, he began driving all over creation, looking for land with riverfront, some with houses on them. We actually went as far as New London. We met with him two more times after that day and were not able to find just the right thing. But I had been looking on the internet and bookmarked a couple of places and saw one that looked great. There was a house on this particular property but no photos of the house, just the river it sat beside. I asked the broker to take us there and he cautioned us that it was really not a place we would want to look at, but we insisted. You can imagine our shock when we discovered that the house was on a slight bluff overlooking that exact spot we had first looked upon at Davisville, just downriver from the bridge.
When we got out of his car, we heard a magical sound, the sound of rushing water. To be clear, the house and property were a wreck, but my dear wife and I immediately looked at one another and did not have to say anything. If that sound looked as good as it sounded, this could be the place. As we were led into and through the house, and into a porch on the back. We were astonished to find that the view of what we learned was the Warner River was even more magnificent than that sound.
Four weeks later, it was ours. Much has happened since then, including several years of work on the house and property, and my retirement. The house at Davisville is our full-time home and has been since 2013.
One of the places we have visited is Giverny in France, the home of the great Impressionist painter, Claude Monet. It would be hard to imagine anyone not being familiar with his iconic paintings of Giverny, especially of his pond of waterlilies. Monet saw his property as a work of art in itself, something he nurtured and wished to share with the world. Many more people in this life know me as a poet than as a dentist or teacher. I have had now fourteen published collections and some four hundred individual poems published in twenty different countries. In 2019 I was honored by a request from Gov. Chris Sununu to read a poem of mine at his inauguration in the historic Legislative Chamber at the New Hampshire Statehouse. For me, as a poet who endeavors to explore the meaning of “place”, I am so truly fortunate to have found my Giverny in this place, on this Warner river. I have now written two collections of poems, both published in Ireland, sitting beside this river, a river I call my companion and my comfort. It has also been my inspiration. I have said to my wife that I could die here tomorrow, and it would be alright. She knows what I mean. I have truly found the place in this world I once saw in a dream, and now call it “home”.