This summer has been pretty long for me–a series of injuries has taken much longer to heal than I could have imagined, and even now I limit myself to very short walks as my foot continues to heal. Because of my “Easy Walks in Massachusetts” hiking books and Facebook page of the same name, people often ask if I lead walks, but the fact is that I, myself need support along the trail. It’s why I do only easy walks! A leader of group walks needs to be able to care for others if there is an emergency, and that simply is not a good match for my capabilities.
I can, however, help spread the word of all the great area events that are offered on an on-going basis. Trail cleanups, anniversary celebrations, regular walking events, and more happen in our area every week. Sometimes it simply requires getting yourself onto some mailing lists and then paying attention when they show up in your inbox.
I’ve made friends through taking walks with groups. I’ve made friends by having a presence on Facebook through my “Easy Walks in Massachusetts” page. Walking buddies have come to me through the conversations I ‘ve had at workshops I’ve conducted at area libraries and senior centers.
This morning’s walk almost didn’t happen for me since it’s gotten pretty warm again–typical for August, but too hot for me. At the last minute I decided to try, knowing that the worst that could happen was that it would be too hot and I’d go home.
The Rhode Island Land Trust offers walks weekly through their Meetup page, and this morning’s walk was co-sponsored by them as well as another walking group I’m acquainted with. The promotional information promised a short walk to some marsh areas next to the East Bay bike path. We were urged to bring our cameras since we should expect to see lots of birds.
We met at the Boyden Heights Conservation area in East Providence, just off Rt 195 at the end of Boyden Boulevard. We waited for additional walkers, and once introductions were made we headed off through the woods toward the shore.
First stop was a boardwalk out into a marsh area that fronts onto the bike path.
We stood on the boardwalk watching walkers and bikers travel the bike path.
The incoming tide rushed through a narrow opening under the bike path, pouring sea water into the marsh.
The harsh “ack-ack!” call of the great blue heron caught our attention, and we were rewarded with, not just one, but three great blue herons which flew over the marsh and perched in bushes on the far side of the water from where we stood.
Mute swans glided through the marsh while double-crested cormorants dove for fish. The boardwalk offered some great views of the upper Narragansett Bay, including the Squantum club, which owns a huge rock outcrop just offshore from where we stood.
It was only a short jaunt from the boardwalk out to the bike path, where we spied lots of wildflowers, remnants of the railroad that used to run along the shores of Narragansett Bay, some butterflies, and more seabirds.
As we walked, a fairly steady stream of walkers and bikers traveled both directions along the path. The full sun was too much for me, so I headed back to a bench tucked into the shade along the bike path, at the entrance to the Boyden Heights property. Once in the shade, the cool sea breezes made all the difference for me.
A walker joined me on the bench, and we soon chatted about groups he might walk with. I urged him to check out a few groups, including the ones that sponsored this walk. I learned that he has been conducting interviews at a local assisted living place, and he showed me a short video of one of the events he helped put together. I pointed him to the Association of Personal Historians, letting him know that others around the world were doing the same kind of work he was. Perhaps I’ll meet this new friend on another trail in the future.
The walking group I’d started out with returned, and we headed back to our cars. It wasn’t a long walk, but it was enough to help loosen up my shoulders and lift my spirits. It’s still summer, but I’m counting the days to fall. Soon–it’s coming soon!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! New England Regional Chair for the Association of Personal Historians, she is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com