I took advantage of the marvelous weekend weather, aside from that late night Saturday/dawn's early light Sunday squall, to wander around Chelsea Parade, all of it, which, from my biased opinion, sits in the middle of the most important real estate in all of Norwich, as my family and I live but two minutes away.
You can watch the seasons' pass in a parade of their own at Chelsea Parade. Spring training always starts a little earlier than the pros heading to Florida or Arizona start. And the pennant races are still fast and furious as pick-up-team footballers and lacrosse players get in some extra reps as the seasons shift around them.
The only sport not practiced on the expanses of the green triangle bordered by Broadway and Washington is mid-winter skiing and I suspect that's mostly because downhill is out of the question and cross-country hasn't caught on around here the way is has out west.
When our children were smaller, it was a short bus ride to Buckingham School, since closed and later razed, with many of the kids of the neighborhood. Streets are a lot like tides that way-when our kids were small all the young kids were on our end of the street, and now that all of those children are adults of their own, all the kids on our street live on the far end and we hear but rarely see them.
Most of the same kids who went to Buckingham rolled up the hill to Kelly Middle School-a bit farther away to be sure, but still more or less in the neighborhood and then for high school, it was the walk across Chelsea Parade to the campus of Norwich Free Academy. The school was a portal for the neighborhood kids to the wide world beyond in ways perhaps parents couldn't always be.
I stopped to compare notes with the Civil War soldier who stands an unblinking watch, being as he is, to my knowledge, the last serving member of the Grand Army of the Republic, whose crest decorates the stone border surrounding his statue.
That he's looking at the flag pole, and beyond it, to what we consider to be the heart of our city, Chelsea, is not coincidental, I'm nearly positive. That he's seen things of which he dare not speak, I have no doubt and I think I'm grateful for that silence.
But more eloquent than the silence is the space to his back where Broadway and Washington meet and a small strip of land at the tip of Chelsea Parade where Norwich has traditionally memorialized the selfless sacrifices of those who've served in our armed forces.
I paid especial attention to how the grass has grown over the street once paved in gold which has seen its share of tears through the years as stone remembrances were erected for those who fell during the two World Wars, Vietnam and to honor Prisoners of War and Missing in Action of all of our nation's conflicts.
The landscaping has come along well and the footing poured by Public Works for what many hope will be the final monument on Chelsea Parade is in place and ready for this Saturday evening at six when the Norwich Post 9/11 Memorial to two Norwich residents who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Army Specialist Jacob Martir and Army First Lieutenant Keith Heidtman is dedicated.
All we'll need is you.