Granite State of Mind, #86: "Winterfell", Milton
Just North of Rochester, straddling the Spaulding Turnpike, sits Milton, NH, a onetime manufacturing center along the Salmon Falls River. It's got the New Hampshire Farm Museum, the brilliantly named Mi-Te-Jo Campground, and the Three Ponds. Most importantly, though, it also has the house my brother Al's family owned and lived in for many years before their travels led them to Vermont and Connecticut.
Named Winterfell after the stronghold of the Starks long before most people had ever heard of Starks, this northern extension of the Pace territory was always a bustling place. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, and innumerable children, especially when all the cousins were crammed together into one of the rooms. Many football games watched (including the Patriots' Super Bowl win over the Eagles), many holidays celebrated by the hearth, and late nights of movies, board games, and companionable chatter, with Al and Colin and me on the couch while Stefani and Sarah and Heather rolled their eyes with what I like to think was affectionate indulgence.
One of the best parts of the compound was the big old fire pit, one we loaded many times with whatever we could get to burn (up to and including a wayward picnic table), while we stood around the edges and drank in the flames (plus, you know, other stuff). Sometimes the standing gave way to feats of athleticism and daring, with leaps over the inferno. There were good times around those fires, especially if we could get our dad Albert out there to tell a few stories. Geoffrey Simard will recall an object lesson in cigar tubes, and Albert F. Pace III will recall how important shirts are when winter comes.
The 45 minutes from Exeter to Milton always felt longer, because we knew how much fun we'd have once we got there. I could go for a night by the fire pit right about now.