Just west of where the Missouri meets the Mississippi lies a growing Missouri town called Wentzville, an area I should hope I know fairly well. Until August of 2019, I had lived there for all twenty years of my life. Moving to Ashland, Wisconsin was quite the transition as I adjusted to a new landscape, a new town and an entirely different population of people.
The first thing you notice when traveling up north is the trees. The birch and pine of the north create an entirely different atmosphere than the sycamore and dogwood that I’m used to in Missouri. Hiking through Houghton Falls has brought the phrase “life imitates art” to the front of my mind lately; the north woods have been absolutely awe-inspiring covered in the winter snow.
Adjusting to the landscape and the town has been relatively easy compared to the difference in the climate. When I step outside into the cold every morning I can’t help but curse under my breath as I break off the icicles forming under my nostrils.
Although the climate may be cold, I have never met warmer people. The students and faculty of Northland College have welcomed me with open arms. Northland is quite unlike anywhere I have been before, making it easy to be myself. The diverse backgrounds of the student body and the inclusive attitudes of the faculty have made it easier to breathe in an environment that encourages self-expression and kindness.
The warmth I have seen is not limited to my peers and mentors on campus. The people of Ashland have also shown me a warm welcome as I have built relationships with the community I interact with almost every day. You become acquainted with the people that pass you by on the sidewalks. Day by day, smiling strangers turn to familiar faces.
The close proximity of everything really creates a sense of community. Just a couple weeks ago while out for a walk with a friend, we were invited in for soup at the concession stand by the skate park. This was a group of people who host this every week. They’re not a charity, they’re not with a church, and they didn’t want to sell me anything. They host this gathering just to bring people together in the cold winter months. It’s little things like this that make this place so special.
Just west of where Chequamegon Bay meets the Bad River lies a rural Wisconsin town called Ashland, an area that I have gotten to know fairly well. For the past six months, I have come to know and love the landscape, the town, and the people. Ashland has become a place that I can call my home.
Jimmy Moore is a junior at Northland College, studying natural resources with an emphasis in ecological restoration.