Deep River was the town that my husband and I could afford. But our financial prudence has been repaid with unexpected abundance. This place has unfolded joyfully before us, a small but satisfying topographical map that holds quiet surprises in its folds.
Behind our yard’s stone wall and up a gradual incline lays the Cockaponset State Forest, and the trail on its edge follows an old logging road. We hike it to Pine Ledge, where some people studiously climb ropes up the tall cliffs. We prefer the steep scramble to the top, where we spot vultures and hawks gliding on thermals. On the journey back we happen upon red spotted efts, or snapping turtles, or owl pellets, depending on the season and the day. We know the deer are there, too, but they are good at staying hidden.
The neighborhood below is dotted with marshy spots where we’ve found muskrats, ducks, and the occasional launching heron. These wetlands announce burgeoning spring, and we roll down the car windows eager to hear the first peepers. Red-shouldered hawks and the rare bald eagle scrutinize us as we walk past waterways and pines to town, and if we continue a block beyond Main Street we come to our beloved Fountain Hill.
Fountain Hill Cemetery, dating back to 1851, is, of course, a place that has seen great sadness. But it is also the sort of place that makes you think that, if you have to be buried someday, at least it could be here. You can see the Connecticut River from the highest hills when the trees are bare, and we’ve spotted red fox and coyotes around the crypts and chapel. The manmade pond in one corner has seen generations of children frog and fish and fall in, squealing at the occasional Northern Water or Eastern Garter Snake.
If you walk down through the trees and across the train tracks, your descent is rewarded by the glint of Pratt Cove. We’ve canoed its maze of reeds, but an even better pastime is simply sitting on the launch, wondering what you might see next.