If the town had been called “Connecticut Point” or “South Mystic,” I could have resisted. But it was a word I’d never seen or heard—the sign read, “Noank.”
About four miles southwest of the Mystic River Drawbridge, my mom and I pulled into a little lot by the water. “Yeah, you can tell who lives here by how fast they drive,” a young woman working as nanny told me as she parked her stroller under a tree. “Now that it’s nice out, people zoom into town, and then turn around and leave.”
On a Tuesday morning in early June, the village of Noank, Connecticut, is serene. There’s an easy breeze drifting in from the little beach at the end of Main Street, where a granite bench marks the memory of one “who loved Noank.” The cove’s air has that slight salt tang—something you’ll never whiff if, like me, you live over 100 miles inland.
The young woman, my impromtu “knowledgeable person,” assures me that everyplace on the little peninsula of Noank is walkable, that we could amble over to the boatyards and the Historical Society and get scones at the Noank Community Market, leaving the car right here, by the toddler searching for shells and a marker noting that Amelia Earhart married in this place.
The 300-year-old houses look proud of their longevity. We pass starlings flitting across wrought iron fences. Turning on to Pearl Street, we encounter the green canopy of a chestnut tree in bloom. There’s no bustle here, only the disarmingly kind people at the Community Market who must know we’re out-of-towners, but make no mention of it.
We sip our coffee and savor our pastries, staring out at the clean brilliance of a June day.
Our mid-New England mother-daughter rendezvous is coming to an end and we are savoring Noank’s tranquility before we each head to homes in opposite directions.
The boatyard, lighthouse, and the (allegedly) famous Abbott’s restaurant are further up the road, but a glance at my mother’s watch means “next time,” so we reluctantly saunter back to the car parked by the little beach.
“Yesank,” I think as we glide away, gradually accelerating toward I-95.