Goin’ Up The Country

Posted on Sunday May 27, 2012

If you’re old enough to remember Canned Heat’s boogie classic Goin’ Up The Country, I’m surprised you know how to turn on a computer, but if you’re reading this, well done!

Yesterday I left the Big Apple for the Small Cranberry of Northampton, Massachusetts, to lay a few ghosts to rest after my study exchange to University of Massachusetts last Fall (ok, autumn). On the Peter Pan (really, darling!) bus along with the rest of the downtrodden, we inched our way out of NYC.

Despite rising fuel prices, many Americans on the freeways still seem to drive monstrous pickups with names like Armada, Titan and Ram. (I’m sure a manufacturer somewhere is considering calling their new series the Bigdick™ or the Getouttamyfreakin’way,son™.) My theory is that as all these trucks are twice as big as their Australian equivalents, and their drivers assert their constitutional rights to occupy space (and carry a handgun in the glovebox just in case), the traffic travels only half as fast.

Be that as it may, once out into the New England countryside it’s hard not to be impressed by the beauty of the forests. The almost-lime green of most trees (in their recent spring-into-summer collection clothing) is achingly beautiful compared with Australia’s dull eucalypt bluegreens or even the deep rainforest greens of the Byron hinterland.

Today was all about getting reacquainted with my favourite town here, Northampton – known locally as Noho, possibly because there are quite a few people apparently with no hope, begging in the street. Of course, they have the same right as everyone else here to be a millionaire, but apparently have not chosen that path nor been looked upon favourably by God. Actually, they seem to be invisible to all.


The less visible face of America

Noho is like a scaled-up Bangalow, with hints of Mullumbimby and Nimbin – plenty of Alternative Folk, Artistes, Healers, Purveyors of Knickey-Knackery (ouch!) and Fashionable Cafes. It’s a very mixed town, with people of all minorities, apart from African Americans. Where else would you come across a small busload of mute lesbians (or is that ‘gay women lacking the power of speech’?), signing vigorously to each other in a hotel carpark? There’s even a store that proclaims itself as ‘the birdwatcher’s store’. Maybe an idea for someone in Bangalow?

A retail opportunity begging to be franchised