By Nancy Wilde Sartz Roe

A landscape of vibrant contrasts fills my early childhood. As one young and small, I live in the village lands of New England. And, oh—during the 1950s—what a glorious time and place I found there. But the darkness lurked. Here I find the idyllic and the fearsome. I discover dazzling beauty of nature’s offerings spilling bounty, but I endure bursts of wounding chaos. Bliss abounds—the fresh, new, tender, bright, and playful—but so does illness. Creative skills immerge—budding and blooming—though fear gusts rend me ragged like a cloth in the wind. The wide-open discovery—of all the wild and the wonder and the vast and the tiny—welcomes me. But lonely heartbreak lies in wait

My family moves to Laconia, New Hampshire in early October of 1954. Spreading out south of the White Mountains and encompassed by lakes and water ways, its motto remains “City on the Lakes.” Here my family and I find a land of vast clear pebbled waters and, oh, so much more.

In Laconia, a world of fresh beauty and delight surrounds me. For where my family and I live, the woods, brooks, green fields, and distant towering mountains dwell all around us. Here my family enjoys summertime swims in cold clear lakes as we gather for family picnics in the park. The bright gurgling waters of the Winnipesaukee River rush under an arced stone bridge there in Main Street, downtown. My world overflows excitement, glee, and awe amid the 4th of July celebrations. Raining brilliant stars in the black night sky, the fireworks captivate us all. Then, held near the heart of our small downtown, the annual summer carnival comes, bursting thrills and delights. Here, I ride the Ferris wheel and merry go ‘round and sample billowing fluffs of melting cotton candy sweetness. And as the season turns, the New England autumn advances with blazing glory.

In the fall, I pulse alive with vivid leaf colors. Dazzling sunlit magenta, crimson, canary, pinks, and golds light up the sky with tree fires. Later, these fall trees—like loving custodians—cast their gifts to the ground. I romp free with family and friends as we join in to gather the scattered brilliance into towering pillow mounds for jumping in and plunging into. In New Hampshire under crisp clear night skies, I find that place for deep longing and wishing upon a star. Here my dreamy harvest moons glow promise. Here I find my beloved home—the best of homes—but all is not well in paradise.