Monday, June 15, 2015

Truly Madly Deeply - Lincoln, MA

Sadly, my readers, I must confess that I am an addict. I am an addict of breathing in green leaves, sometimes dried, sometimes fresh. And yes, the white stuff too--it makes me giggle crazily as I sink into the maddening piles of it. And the worst of it is that while I love to share my addiction some days, mostly I prefer to feed it alone. 

My addiction is not, of course, to drugs, but to a place once called Preston Woods, now called Beaver Pond conservation area, or by me: "the woods."  A place conserved and managed by the Lincoln Land Conservation Trust and cared for by members of the community (both Weston and Lincoln townsfolk mostly). A place so magical in every season, it is truly addictive.

Trail markings
 Yesterday afternoon I was crabby. In frustration, BH (Brazilian husband) asked "what is going on?" And before I even answered, he figured it out-- "aha, you did not get into the woods today." And he was right--I was missing my woods walk. It is a walk I take, in some variation, every single weekday after my kids go to school. On weekends, I can't get out and both Coal, my 2 year old dog, and I are somewhat crabby about it. I do love my kids truly madly deeply but I also need the woods. It is hard to explain the feeling of absolute joy I get from these trails, leaf-covered, quiet, calming. It is a drug.

John Muir understands me, or perhaps it is I who understand him when he says: "I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out I found, was really going in." The woods are a place for introspection, for wonder, for true quiet. Going in.

Foggy? Rainy? No problem!
Today is pouring rain but it stopped me and Coal not one bit. On went the waterproof pants and jacket, the duck boots and into the woods for my favorite 3-mile hike. On days when I have other morning appointments, I frequently take a shorter and hillier 2-mile hike--each trail is delightful and each day brings us something new. Today, for instance, a brown toad rushed so fast across the wide trail even Coal was taken aback and slow to react. And new tiny white flowered plants are lining the trail where they had not been a week ago.

I have lived in three places that have what I'll call marginal seasons...San Francisco, Miami and Brazil. SF seems to have foggy season and golden season when the dryness browns the hills. Miami has pleasant season and freaking hot season. Brazil has more variety but no snow, to the great relief of many of my warm-weather fan friends. New England has 365 seasons, sometimes all in one day.

Every day there is something new to look at in these woods. Fall is my favorite of course as the trees compete to out-beauty each other.  The smell of fall is indescribable-- a mix of memories, trodden leaves, crisp air and pumpkins. Seriously. The woods put on an incredible huge last party and this is the season when I most run into people on my walks. Who can resist autumn?

Winter was alternately gorgeous, forbidding or comical. Making the first footsteps on a fresh snow = priceless. The crunch, the absolute silence except for the calls of the chickadees or the haunting warning cry of the red-tailed hawk. The lakes frozen tight, the bareness of the trees, all somewhat lonely and scary... until I fell off the trail into a 2 foot drift and could not right myself--my laughter echoing in the trees.

Lady's slipper - beautiful, short-lived, rare
Now spring with its frenzy of growth, leaves popping, new tiny flowers sprouting and dying back on a weekly basis. Lily of the valley, lady's slipper, ferns, and my old friend poison ivy. All reaching and dancing in the dappled springtime sun. One morning I was greeted by a cacophany of spring peepers from a vernal pool--so loud my dog Coal stopped, head cocked, to assess the level of danger. The people are back and I often have to share my woods--with Steve and his grey Weimaraner, or a foreign gentleman with a small terrier that romps and plays with Coal, or horse-back riders and others. But rarely do I run into more than about 3 people on the whole loop. 

The also-rare Haifa, my senior dog
Summer is but a week away and I have yet to experience that season in the woods--we arrived at the end of summer last year. I'm looking forward to it.

Yesterday at a Lincoln Land Trust event on caterpillars, I picked up the Trust's 2014 annual report which contains photos and an article about the Preston family and their land grant. One of my favorite signs in the woods is dedicated to Jean Wood Preston who is honored for sharing her "perennial joy in nature." Her daughter Katherine is quoted saying "My soul was set on its journey by Lincoln--its fields and woods and streams and ponds -- and the people it nurtured."  (you can read the full article on page four here).

I would like to think my soul is also set a journey here--it starts with three miles and ends truly madly deeply in my love of this place. Thank you, Lincoln Land Conservation Trust, the Prestons, and all those who preserve nature. It is the best addiction.

These two photos are from the same spot on Stony Brook just below Beaver Pond. One in January 2015, the other in May. Perennial joy, indeed.

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