Any volunteers for this summer’s dunk tank?

A To-Do List Anyone Would Love

Submitted 7 months ago
Created by
Mark Lilienthal

True, we live in a small community. Also true that a lot of us have lived in a metropolis at some point in our lives, or, at minimum, a place with a little more pep than Norwich. Though it can be hazardous to admit it, I often miss the sheer volume of possibilities that more populous places offer. Let’s be honest with ourselves: sometimes on a Friday night when we ask loved ones, “What do you want to do tomorrow?” the options (“we could walk the Ballard Trail” or “we could go to the farmers market”) might not dazzle city slickers accustomed to authentic Japanese ramen, professional sports teams, and 24-hour nail salons.

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The reality, of course, is that there are myriad pleasures for us to explore and discover right here in the world of 649. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about all the things I haven’t yet done here. It has been an instructive exercise because it proves what we all know but might not acknowledge: though Norwich is small, its capacity to surprise and delight is limitless.

For starters, what must it feel like to nominate someone for the Women’s Club Citizen of the Year? It seems like something that would require a great deal of earnest, satisfying reflection on what makes our community good. Attending the gala where the COTY is honored must figure on the bucket list of local people, along with riding on a fire truck in a parade and volunteering as a pie judge at the Fair.

Speaking of the Fair, what holds us back from sitting on the dunk tank? Are we more nervous that people might actually line up to throw balls to dunk us or that perhaps no one would care enough about us to bother lobbing a ball? Only one way to know...

Maybe I would enjoy a contra dance more as an adult than I did as a kid. Seems like I could find out at Tracy Hall on a pretty regular basis. At the risk of the authorities confiscating my Vermont driver’s license, I admit that I have never personally tapped a sugar maple tree. I am not really sure where Tigertown Road is, but anytime someone says that it’s out that way, I pretend like I do. I should go find it.

Over the decades in 05055, there is a whole set of “I’ve never” that I would like to work on reducing. As a citizen of a democracy, I have never attended a Selectboard meeting or spoken at Town Meeting. I have never volunteered to help put up or take down the American flags on holidays. I should get on that because the end result makes our town look as spiffy as a Norman Rockwell painting.

The world outside has certainly shown me lots of fun things to do right in my backyard. What Norwich childhood could be called complete without a journey to the top of the fire tower on Gile Mountain? Parcel 5, Huntley Meadow, the Milton Frye Nature Area, the woods behind King Arthur Flour, the trails by the river...all are Norwich natural gems. But there remains so much more to discover and explore. Personally, the only part of the Appalachian Trail in Norwich that I have “hiked” has been entirely by accident; who hasn’t walked on Elm Street? I am reasonably certain that the wooded part of the Trail in town is quite a bit more interesting, yet I haven’t explored it.

Though I like the game, I have never worked up the guts to go to the weekly cribbage gathering at the American Legion Hall. I have never been the first customer at Dan & Whit’s on an ordinary operating day, though I have been the last. I am not familiar with the inside of the grey church next to the school, and, if I’ve been inside Beaver Meadow Chapel, it’s news to me. In both cases, I’m curious, but, well, life always seems to intervene, a feeling many Norwich residents know well.

There is much more to see, do, and check out in town, I am certain. Many new experiences in front of us are the intangibles. Our town is blessed with people who have accomplished extraordinary things in their lives. Our neighbors are entrepreneurs, athletes, farmers, elected officials, volunteers, scientists, craftsmen, artists, doctors, teachers, and, of course, parents. Somehow, small as our town is, we haven’t all met each other yet. Norwich has a nice habit of rewarding patience, of putting people who should meet in the same place. If you can allow yourself to let it happen, the town usually finds a way to help you cross the “I’ve never met _____” off your list.

And as we all know, those are the moments that build new friendships, inspire business opportunities, and launch laughter into the air around us, reminding us always that the best part of our little town is the people who call it home.


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