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    Tuesday, November 28, 2023

    The Good Old Days: Mystical beauty of Norwich by the side of the river

    Nonna’s house on Talman Street in Norwich. Photo submitted

    “I remember the early days of my youth, sitting on the porch swing with my grandparents watching the boats sail through the shining water. These were the good old days, when my grandparents hosted holidays in their spacious Victorian home on Talman Street in Norwich.

    During the 1960s, I would stay overnight on the third floor in a bedroom that had two tall windows facing the Shetucket River. Nonna said it was the best room in the house to witness the presence of God’s beauty.

    “Trust that God is always near,” she said. “Some things in life cannot be viewed with the naked eye, but it does not mean they do not exist.”

    Life in Connecticut means you experience every season. During the month of July, crickets, grasshoppers and cicadas participate in an outdoor orchestra. You will hear one cicada’s song reach a crescendo as another’s fades away. Crickets warn of summer passing all too soon, and make night music by strumming their forewings like violins in the hope of attracting a mate before summer’s end.

    To visualize the city of Norwich is to see a mystical beauty and friendliness where sunshine lines the streets and lampposts shine on couples embracing in the night. The houses are uniquely built upon tiers of rocky declivities that rise above the town, looking as though a child piled blocks of various shapes and sizes along the hillside.

    The beating heart and soul of Norwich is the Shetucket River that embraces the town like a mother protecting her child. With every wave that ebbs and flows is a remembrance of the first travelers who came to find a better life.

    Old men gather along the river’s edge to play chess and give advice to those who have the good sense to listen: learn to imitate the river by going forward and never looking back. The magnetism of the water attracts people to the harbor who fish and watch small boats pass.

    I have always been intrigued by the river, having fond memories of my mother and I watching the flow on summer days. This is how I learned I was connected to the water.

    “Your grandparents, Rosina and Nunzio Falcone, came from Calabria, Italy. They raised a family on Talman Street. Your father and two brothers swam in this water. They all worked at the American Thermos Bottle Company. Your grandfather drove one of the first trolley cars; that’s how far back your family goes. Life may change in the years ahead. But you shall always be connected to the river.”

    As darkness falls, the city of Norwich becomes alive with a mystical beauty! There is a warm glow from the houses that magically reflect the water’s surface. On one particular summer night, while sitting on the porch with my grandparents, in the distance, hundreds of fireflies appeared over the water. We watched in awe, guided by the lights dancing in the dark. Nearing closer and closer, we watched until they passed directly overhead, flashing soft sparkles of light until vanishing into the night.

    Afterward, I stayed silent for a long time, wondering if the fireflies were once spirits of long-lost children leaving behind an endless light of love. Then, silently, I said goodnight to all the children I had once known and loved: Goodnight Francis and Lilian! Goodnight Jodi and Gregory, and cousins Bobby and Wayne.

    Goodnight Norwich. Sweet dreams.

    Concetta Falcone-Codding is a 1971 graduate of the Norwich Free Academy and the author of “The Lonely Nest.” You can contact at: concettafalconecodding1@gmail.com

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