Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On being pleasantly surprised by New England

This past weekend, I travelled to New Haven, Connecticut with Samford University's Cumberland School of Law National Mock Trial Team to compete in the Quinnipiac University School of Law's National Crimianl Trial Advocacy Competition (wow -- that's a lot of capital letters).

It was my first trip to New England, and (except for a journey to the U.K. that took me over Greenland during my trans-Atlantic flight) the furthest north I've been in the U.S. (although now that I think about it, is Chicago more northerly?).

I'll be honest: I expected rude people who didn't much sense of right and wrong; people more worried about being selfish than anything else. I thought I'd find ugly places and unfrinedly people.

Thankfully, I was completely wrong.

Actually, what I found when I landed at the Hartford airport was that Connecticut was beautiful: indeed, as we landed, I remember thinking that the scenery outside my window -- with its vivid fall colors and rolling hills -- could have been Knoxville, but for a lack of the Great Smoky Mountains to one side.

I really enjoyed being able to experience fall again. Since I've lived in Alabama, I have missed feeling the snap of the cold air in the morning and as the sun goes down. I have grown somewhat tired of the green-to-dead transition that Alabama foliage takes in going from summer and summer-lite to winter.

It was certainly a surprise to feel an affinity for Connecticut -- somewhere that seems so far from where I'm from, and yet was so similar to that with which I had grown up.

The surprise continued throughout the weekend. People were friendly, people were welcoming, and no one was rude (well, except maybe some of the people from Queens -- but even they weren't that bad).

As the weekend wound down, I received another pleasant surprise: our mock trial team -- after hard work, a 166-page problem, no coach, and hardly any time to prepare -- came through and won the tournament all the way through for Cumberland's first championship of the semester.

And now, thanks to my trip to New England, I will be able to come back to Samford and point to my trophy in the case and join the pantheon of Cumberland's winning tradition.