A Country Walk

When Jim and I are in CT, we love to take long walks. Most often Dakota accompanies us on our walks. He’ll walk along grinning like a fool. He loves walking along with us when we’re talking. He feels like one of the gang. Sometimes we leave him home. While I love taking Dakota with us, he does tend to dawdle and sniff and sometimes he tries to sit down because his feet get tired. When we walk without him, we can move faster.

One of our favorite walks is up Grantville Road. The short walk is up Grantville to the White House No One Lives In. The long walk is to the end of the road. The long walk is about 4.5 miles round trip, but it features a killer hill. The short walk takes about 45 minutes and the long walk closer to 90.This is the beginning of the walk. Our neighbors, Jim and Sandi, are right next door. We’ve been neighbors for 29 years. Once past Jim and Sandi’s, we quickly hit a hill which is a bit tough when you’re just getting going.

Jim really hates that hill. It is deceptive looking. It is goes on for quite a while.

While we live in a rural area, there is some multi-family housing. Above you see an example of a local condominium. Look closely up high and you will see there are many tenants. We can hear them pecking as we walk along.

We call this the Gifford’s House. The Giffords haven’t lived there for at least fifteen or twenty years, but they used to. It is a very attractive farmhouse. The addition went on after the Giffords sold it. After the Giffords a couple lived there. The woman died about 18 months ago and in the last few months some new people moved in. We haven’t met them yet other than to wave as we walk past.

I am not sharing every house we pass, just the ones we really like.

This house we think of as the Webster’s. I believe Mr. Webster was a Judge. He passed away quite some time ago and now his granddaughter has the house with her family. They are exceptionally nice and have a large garden. They also put in a pool. I think it is the only pool in the area I can think of. It doesn’t really get warm enough to need to swim that often and there are lots of ponds and lakes around just perfect for swimming.

The Webster’s house is also obviously quite old. In front of it stands a hitching post. There is lots of stone around, walls of stone, slabs of stone protecting mailboxes. There is just plenty of stone. At the beginning of the 21st century twice as much land was farmed as it is now in this area. There are lots of full grown forests with stone walls made hundreds of years ago through back-breaking labor as a farmer cleared a field for planting.

A perfect example of both the stone walls and the size of the boulders. Lucky that boulder was on the outside of the fence because nothing was going to move it. These are all souvenirs of glaciers long ago. They carved hills and lakes and dropped much debris as they went. These stone walls are all dry walls–as opposed to walls held together with mortar.

Walking up the road, the sun breaks through the trees. Every time of day has its own show of light and shadows. Sometimes the light slants through the trees, sometimes it seems almost dark in the middle of the day. It is always cool and comfortable walking up the tree-lined parts of the road.

This house, which is quite hard to see, has no one living in it. It belongs to a family who own quite a bit of land up here, but they had a falling out. This house’s owner hasn’t been here in twenty years. It is in worse and worse condition. It sits on a gorgeous piece of property which will one day be sold as part of the woman’s estate. For years, I coveted the property. It has a gorgeous sweeping field and beautiful stone walls. But I finally realized that our property is cozier and our pond more beautiful. I still love to peer at the house as we walk past and wonder what will happen to it.

After the White House No One Lives In comes a giant hill. Heading down the hill isn’t too bad, but the way back up is a killer. The hill goes on forever and at the bottom is Dale Marchione’s place. Dale is an artist and grew up on this farm. They still have sheep and chickens. Dale has a rustic studio in which he displays his art. It is bright and colorful and I very much like it. Dale and his partner, Ben, live in a 17th Century farmhouse with tiny rooms, low ceilings and a giant fireplace. It is quite amazing. A few years ago they turned the farm into a land trust so it will stay farmland forever and their animals are protected.

After Dale and Ben’s place there is just about a quarter mile to the end of the road. There isn’t much else until you get to the very end where Grantville intersects Grant Station Road. Grant Station Road has quite a bit of traffic and the zoning is for small lots. It isn’t that nice.

On the top of the hill at the end of the road sits this log cabin. It was built a few years ago and the owners are still working on the yard and the garage. They have two giant dogs who come running and barking. It is a little unsettling, but they never leave their yarn.

To the right at the end of the road is a very cute little old house. The owners put a metal roof on it and they have a nice yard. It is quite sweet.

At this point there is nothing to do but turn and head for home. After passing Dale’s house, the big hill begins. The photo below does nothing to showcase the long, torturous ascent. Driving down the hill in the winter is also quite un-nerving. Somepeople drive miles out of their way to avoid driving down that hill in January. Retracing our steps along the road and through the woods gives us a chance to see everything from a different angle.

We walk past all of our favorite landmarks. The same trees, rocks, stone walls, houses, and other markers we have passed at least a hundred times over the past 29 years. Some things have changed. There are some new houses, but much has remained the same. We are almost the longest term people living on the road. Jim and Sandi best us by two years. Lots of times not a single car will pass us as we walk along. Those that do all wave hello.

And when we get to the end of our walk, we get to see the most beloved, prettiest house of all.

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7 Comments to “A Country Walk”

  1. I love the photographs! It feels just like I’m taking the walk again, on our very own beautiful country road. Still, I wonder about those neighbors with the closed windows–does that mean they have air conditioning on?

  2. Wow … I just Googled “Dale Marchione” and your blog was at the top. I’ve often thought of him and wondered if he was still in NW CT.

    From an early age, I took many oil painting classes with Dale, and have nothing but fond memories of painting outdoors on his property – I was always the youngest person among his students. For some reason I was thinking his studio was in Colbrook – but I guess not … I’m assuming you’re somewhere near Norfolk? I grew up in Winsted.

    Mr. Marchione helped me get into NWCC as an art major in the early 70s. Do you ever see him? If you do, please tell him “Ginny” says hi, though I doubt he’ll remember me. At the very least let him know that his classes meant a lot to me … he was a wonderful inspiration.

    • Dale is a lovely man. I expect he is now 80 and I know he has slowed down quite a bit. I have always loved his work and I can imagine he is a brilliant and inspirational teacher. I don’t see him that much, but I will certainly extend your greetings next time I do. Thanks for sending me the note.

  3. Oh …. thanks so much, Jenny. I’ve been waiting for an email to indicate I got a reply, but I guess I forget to check the “notify” box. I just happened to check and there’s your reply.

    I realize it’s silly of me to think he’d remember, but my memory is that the other women in his classes were older ladies with white hair who liked to paint flowers (come to think of it, that’s how I can describe myself now, lol). Well, they probably weren’t as old as I thought, in the way of youths thinking anyone over 40 is old.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure I was always way younger than his other students, and I guess that’s why I felt he might remember me.

    I’ve checked the “notify” box this time, and will hope to hear that you were able to extend my greetings to him. He really was an inspirational teacher.

  4. By the way, I enjoyed your bit about Los Lonely Boys (love them) and Infinity Hall – it looks like a great venue. I lived in Norfolk for a time in the early 70s.

    I wonder if I know the Jack Forchette you mention … if he’s from Winsted, I believe I do.

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