All the stars aligned and several friends were all willing to meet at Hopedale Parklands on what turned into a glorious day to be outside . Two friends had never been there before, the third discovered the parklands after learning of it at one of my presentations. We had a lot of fun and a lot of silliness along the way.
Bonnie and Suzanne work with the Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor, so they were actually working as we walked and talked about creating a new group for volunteers to participate in Corridor activities, focused on group walks.
Dale is a serious walker, hiking almost daily. But Dale had never been to the Hopedale Parklands. I couldn’t wait to share it with him!
They got the 50 cent tour as I reminded them of the history of this wonderful spot, created over one hundred years ago now. Dedicated townsfolks transformed a swampy mill pond into a jewel of a community park, with trees and shrubs planted that were designed to grow and take on the appearance of natural woodland.
We walked out to the stone bridge and back; the Mill River flows under the bridge into the pond. This provided a good turn around spot for us. The bridge is about a mile from the main entrance on Hopedale Street; by turning back there I knew we’d manage right around a 2 mile jaunt. I’m still getting my foot back in shape after a 6 month hiatus from serious walking of any kind. This distance turned out to be just right for me.
Bonnie is a dedicated trash-picker-upper, so we wandered about as she spotted bits and pieces of trash along the way.
Bobbers stuck in weeds were no match for Bonnie. Suzanne pitched in and helped with her trash picker-upper stick as well. And by the time we got back to where we started, Dale was picking up trash and adding it to the collection. If he’s not careful, Bonnie will have a picker-up stick for him the next time we have a group walk.
It looks like this is the first of what we hope may be many other group walks that provide time to spend together in the outdoors, along with an effort to clean up the trails we visit. Keep your ears open for announcements for future walks, but be prepared. If Bonnie and/or Suzanne are involved, you may find yourself becoming a VIP –Volunteer in the parks–The Blackstone Valley National Historic Park, that is. I’ve heard volunteering is contagious…
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.