no avatar

A precious phenomenon: Summer in Norwalk

By JIM BUSEK • Jul 11, 2017 at 10:00 AM

We took a walk the other day. Suddenly, both of our noses went into the air and one of us proclaimed: “Something smells great!”

Steaks on someone’s grill, most likely.

And therein you find two of the great things about summer: cooking out and being out.

Granted, some things have changed from the old days when you could hear the Cleveland Indians’ games through open windows and from radios on decks when you took your evening walk. Lots more people have air conditioning now so they are not on their porches and decks as much. And almost everyone has a big TV that is even better than being at the game itself.

Valley Beach is gone now, too, a summer-in-Norwalk ritual for countless families.

But lots of Norwalk summer things are as predictable as ever.

For instance, when the wind turns right, you are surrounded by the fragrance of buns baking at New Horizons.

Raceway Park thunders in the distance a couple of nights a week. Truck tires sing on the bypass round the clock. Canada geese honk along the reservoir. And the Japanese beetles attack the red leaves on my sand cherry.

I’ve been noticing the sound of trains more this summer. And, although I am a guy who always prefers peace and quiet over noise, I find something oddly comforting about the sound of trains in the distance, rumbling toward and through town as they have done for the past hundred and fifty years. They idle in from the west, glide between Manahan and Minard, rumble under the Linwood bridge and then begin the long uphill strain to Hartland Center, sounding their horns at Benedict and Woodlawn and Corwin and then, thanks to a big curve in the track, at Woodlawn again. Maybe if I lived closer to the tracks the train noises would annoy me. But now I find the whistle sounds at the distant crossings to have more in common with, say, regularly chiming church bells.

I like summertime storms, too. I enjoy the anticipation, watching the sky blacken, wondering if we will get a direct hit or a near miss, unfolding a lawn chair to watch the action — if it finally develops — from my open garage doorway.

Were there fewer fireflies this year? At any rate, they are already just about done.

Most farm crops went in late this year, but from the edge-of-town neighborhoods you can now hear the rustling of the corn in the fields.

The Big Dipper is always impressive in summer. Looking skyward from the south Ursa Major appears to be right over downtown. Funny how we never noticed it when we were “buzzing the ave” 50 years ago. (Digression: I just did an internet search for “buzzing the ave.” And, after Google explored the entire worldwide web, almost all the results were from Sandusky or Norwalk. Must have been mostly our own regional expression. Nice.)

Vargo’s and H&B Hop make a good bridge between those buzzin’ days and these smartphone days. We liked our local drive-ins then and now.

But the summer goes by fast.

The Fourth is past. And the Fair is coming.

Soon there will be back to school ads, the class enrollment listings for Maplehurst, Benedict and League, the high school football preview issue, and the first school lunch menus.

The good news is there is still plenty of time left to appreciate the precious phenomenon we call summer in Norwalk.


Jim Busek is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached via e-mail at jimbusek@ hotmail.com.

Recommended for You

    Norwalk Reflector Videos