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My Turn: One pilgrim’s heartwarming Canterbury tale

On a recent pilgrimage homeward from the State House on Interstate 93 my drive was interrupted by a gent in a pickup who sidled up alongside, lowered his window and gave me the news: “Your car is on fire!”

Exit 17 was near, so I hustled off and out to a side street. For the first time, I observed smoke rising from under the hood. I opened it and was prepared to dump snow inside, but it was clear that turning the engine off was sufficient. I phoned my local garage that specializes in tow jobs and was told that in perhaps one hour I could be reached. So I sat, a bit sad about my forced pilgrimage to Canterbury. But not for long – there was such neighborly kindness there. Was it due to the legacy of the famous Shaker community long ago?

Up swung a pickup truck, and out stepped a woman of middle age, which I passed years ago. She asked if I needed help.

“No thanks,” I replied, “I’ve made contact with my garage.”

Twenty minutes later another woman appeared at my window.

“Are you okay? Can I help?” she inquired.

Again the standard reply, to which she responded “God bless you” and was driven off. As a pastor for more than 60 years, I regretted my failure to quickly respond, “She (God) has already blessed me” and thought how clever that would have sounded.

No sign of a tow truck, when a young bearded man appeared, asking “Need help?”

“No thanks.”

He shared that he was a native of the area with deep family roots and had been sheet-rocking all day and was homeward bound to greet two sons, one of whom had the same teacher he’d had in the elementary school.

I became cold enough to grab a blanket stowed away for just such emergencies. Darkness was falling and the chill after two hours became noticeable. My fifth helper was a burly gent who came up to inquire. I mentioned I was getting cold, but surely the tow truck was due soon. He invited me to his cab to thaw out, which I did for more than 25 minutes. We talked about family matters as well as New Hampshire political quandaries.

My Canterbury tale features the simply friendly willingness to care for a stranger. My political friends are never very specific when they intone the mantra of “the New Hampshire Advantage.” The Canterbury folk have made the advantage very clear and personal.

(State Rep. Sid Lovett is a Democrat from Holderness.)

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