One treasure of Norwich that you will never find in a real estate listing, a guide book, or a town report is “the Block.” It is the two-mile loop comprised of Main Street, Turnpike Road, Moore Lane, and Beaver Meadow Road. It has about as much in common with a city block as a crow has with a flamingo: some similar features, but radically different.
From a distance perspective, the Block is a beaut. Little Legs can handle it, especially if Big Legs remembers to bring a couple bribery snacks. For Schnauzers, poodles, beagles, and the people they manage, the Block is ideal for the daily constitutional. The Block offers a perfect way for workers on lunch break, friends, and couples to squeeze a 30 or 40 minute walk into their schedule. The 10,000+ feet are enough to wipe away stresses, energize the mind and body, and remind one of the benefits of good old fashioned fresh air. In inclement weather, circumnavigating the Block is just serious enough of an undertaking to make you tough without risking hypothermia. Runners use it as a quick cruiser or as an add-on to longer treks. The blind, sidewalk-less curve by Bragg Hill brings an element of danger. You can extend it with a jaunt down Huntley or around Hazen. It is, simply, a route for every age at every time of the year.
As substantial as the cardiovascular benefits of the Block are, its finest role is as glue in our community. No matter where you begin your trip, you encounter a smattering of positive points of the 05055. Start out from the bridge on Moore Lane and Mother Nature’s melodies soothe you as Bloody Brook babbles underfoot. On Beaver Meadow, as you pass the Lyman F. Pell American Legion, it is only natural to give a little nod of appreciation to the veterans of Norwich who have served our country and our community so well. Sometimes, there are people gathered around the pizza oven as you stroll by. Ascending the gentle slope by the cemetery, every car within a country mile stops to let you cross the street, a small but remarkable courtesy. The pace of activity picks up: small businesses, started and run by Upper Valley entrepreneurs, populate the buildings, a testament to our professional independence. The Inn, home of wedding parties, family dinners, reunions, and community events, stands witness as thousands of residents make their daily pilgrimage to the universe’s finest general store at the halfway point of your journey.
You recall pancake breakfasts at the Grange as you amble past, mindful of the new building going up to house police and firefighters. Kids are playing in front of the library, burning off some steam post-Cross School before they go inside and crawl into another book.
Houses on Main Street, a series of New England postcards, are older, their history almost palpable. There’s a famous Democrat’s house. A fire chief used to live in that one. Right before Turnpike, you try to puzzle out if residents of Main Street are required by the town to keep their front lawns immaculate. On your last stretch, traffic slows, and you get a break from initiating or returning the waves and smiles that seem to be the primary currencies of the town.
You’ve gone far enough to feel limber, revitalized, good. As you finish your loop around the Block, you gaze down on Mink Farm/Huntley Meadows. Constellations of little people chase balls under the watchful, supportive eyes of parents and coaches. Dogs zig and zag across the terrain. And you know it’s a bubble, and you know there’s big bad stuff out there, and you know you have responsibilities. But sometimes, it’s nice to forget all that and just take a walk around the Block.