I couldn’t leave my hometown fast enough. Strangely, I was always bored with it. Really, the small Southern Connecticut town where I grew up is chock-full of quirky and beautiful history, including the woods of Putnam State Memorial Park, where over 3,000 Revolutionary War soldiers camped out in the winter of 1778; the pastoral rolling hills of New Pond Farm, where you can learn of the Eastern Woodland Indians who used to inhabit the land (and help milk a cow in their Dairy Annex), and also Samuel Clemens’ estate, ‘Stormfield’, where he lived before his passing in 1910. You can find a few local shops and cozy, rustic watering holes, but there are no chain businesses allowed (even the gas station). There are ghost stories and notable roads to look out for on dark and foggy nights.
Summertime still brings Town Hall’s Concerts on the Green in the town center, and that’s mostly what Redding is: green – an almost nonsensical green made up of trees, grass, swamp algae and skunk cabbage.
For me, New York City (just a couple of hours away) was always the bright beacon of belonging that led me out of the country. But like anything else, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. You don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve left. And if everything in New York is a photograph*, than everything in Redding is a painting. It remains as peaceful, lush and mystical as it ever was.
The town certainly has its airs – it’s Fairfield County, after all. You’ll meet many a luxury SUV around sharp turns on those windy, historical roads. (One of the largest, newest properties was just recently purchased, then demolished and rebuilt, simply because the owners could do it?)
But something wildly natural always remains. Thick dew comes every night and every morning, the soil is still filled with rocks, the peepers still flood the backroads at night and the Saugatuck reservoir still rises and falls through the seasons.
*“Everything in New York is a photograph.” – Ann-Marie MacDonald