Stonington is a town built on hills, like a San Francisco writ small. There are hills everywhere. In fact, you can’t walk 30 yards from our front door without encountering a hill. But on my morning walk, two hills in particular loom large.
I’m a creature of habit, and I always take the same path on my 6:30 a.m. strolls. I follow Main Street to reach the downtown area, then turn right to head down to the mail boat dock and the east end of the harbor — encountering a few mild hills on the way. But after I enjoy the smell of the ocean air and sight of the boats on the water, I turn left and head up Granite Street — and I do mean “up.”
Granite Street (pictured above) is aptly named, because the Granite Street Hill is hard and brutal — like the stone that gives the street its name. The hill rises like a massive fist from the harbor, heading directly up at a constant 45-degree angle, so abruptly that you need to lean forward into the hill to keep your balance. The only redeeming quality of the Granite Street hill is that it is short in length. By the time I reach the top my legs are groaning and I’m breathing hard, gulping down big mouthfuls of that seaside breeze but feeling good that the first hill is behind me.
Then it’s down a gentle slope that heads back into town, past the coffee shop and library, where the second hill challenge is found. Pink Street (pictured below) heads north from town, past the motel cabins, and then winds to the left in a giant arc that skirts a stream that runs down to the harbor. The slope of the Pink Street hill is blessedly more gradual than its Granite Street counterpart, but the path is much longer, running about a quarter mile, at a constant 30 degree uphill slope, past houses, lobster traps, and the old high school turned community center. Every morning, I wonder if the Pink Street path will ever end.
Of course, it does, and when I reach the end I’m far above town and sea level, ready to head down a few more hills rising from the west end of the harbor to get back to our place. I’ve got one last little hill to climb, just before turning onto our street, but it’s puny compared to what I’ve done already. With Granite Street and Pink Street behind me, I’m ready to face the day.