Sharon McInerney - Hammonton N.J.
We landed here just six months before the pandemic closed the world. Two humans, two dogs and a 16-year-old cat. We landed rather unexpectedly in the middle of the Pine Barrens and the blueberry fields of New Jersey.
We landed midway between the Philadelphia suburbs and the ocean. Between family and the green and sea and solitude we knew we would miss. We landed on the lake that would save us.
We landed in Hammonton.
We had looked at a map and the towns equidistant, considering family and the ocean.
And our family on the other side of the ocean, it was right about — here.
My daughter and her children live in Europe. The flights from San Francisco had become too long, too grueling and far too infrequent for my liking. I had grandchildren. I needed to be closer. But I didn’t want to live in the city and I didn’t want to live in the suburbs per se so...
I needed something different. Something like, this.
I had insisted on a pool. That and a fenced garden for the dogs. They were my only requirements, kitchens and bathrooms be damned.
“How about a lake?” he asked, perusing available properties. “I said I want a pool” I wailed “if I’m going to live on the East Coast I need a pool”. Then the fates or the gods and goddesses or perhaps my own dumb luck dropped me right here in this place. In Hammonton. On a lake, with no pool.
Exactly here. In a charming little house of windows. There are Great Blue Herons here.
I’ve watched as they stand silently on the bank just on the other side of the fence. They look part dinosaur and part magic before swooping gracefully across the water.
There are chipmunks, rabbits and squirrel acrobats everywhere and birds, all sorts of birds. Beautiful birds. Just across the way is the fallen tree where the turtles sun themselves. There are more toads and snakes than I care to acknowledge but my dogs and I are happy here.
Approaching this place for the first time less than a month after leaving my beloved California I thought “OK. This is beautiful, there are no hills but this is beautiful.”
Farmland stretched for miles. Then the trees. California without the hills, I decided, I’d be OK.
There are lovely little brew pubs here with really good beer, boutiques that remind me of Rockridge in Oakland and oh, the Italian markets and pastries! There is a charming and vibrant main street. We have homemade cannolis and lovely little wineries. Amazing restaurants too.
In the beginning I was surprised to hear myself say it out loud. I live in New Jersey. But this town is my home now. I still get a lump in my throat remembering California and my dog and flower and friend filled life. I built my field of dreams there.
But this place, right here, is where I have the opportunity to build a new field of dreams.
The good dogs will come and all will be well. Thank you, Hammonton, for welcoming us home.