After nearly a year in the planning, the ten days of the Massachusetts Walking Tour’s visit to the Blackstone Valley and the Upper Charles River watershed is done. Now I’m hearing from those who missed the concerts in their towns, who had hoped to participate but were prevented for various reasons.
The last day of the tour in Easy Walks, Blackstone Valley territory was a challenging one for the hikers. This was the only day in which they were steadily rained upon as they walked from Franklin to Blackstone along the path of the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT). The smallest audience show up, yet those who came were the most ready to sing along on almost every song. The chosen venue provided bathrooms which were precipitiously locked up prior to the concert, leaving the hikers grateful for having been doused by the heavens, since no sinks were available to help them get presentable prior to the concert.
And still–we met Dan Blakeslee, musician and talented artist, who has provided posters for each of the Walking Tours these past eight years.
Nick Noble, host of WICN Worcester, was the master of ceremonies and led us in some great sing-along music.
The playground beyond the stage was filled with children enjoying the late evening coolness. Their energy was unflagging, only a little distracting, and ultimately added to the show.
I’d woken up that morning, saddened that this was the last evening of the tour. Yes, the musicians have headed on to the Thoreau Trail with the National Park Service, so their work is not done, but for us in the Blackstone Valley, it was a goodbye concert. All week I’d wished I’d had a song to share, but nothing came to mind until that morning of the last concert. And suddenly the old Girl Scout round “Make New Friends” popped into my head. I asked Raianne to sing it with me. When my turn came to introduce the group, I stood up with Raianne, we sang two verses of the round together, then turned it into a round and the audience joined in with gusto.
What I told the crowd was that you get only a few chances in life to find friends of the heart. And at some point those dearest friends will leave, at least for our time on this earth.
And so you need to start making new friends–and making friends with those who are younger is a great idea. This is what I’ve gained in working with this group of talented musicians, and lovers of the outdoors. Heart friends–those who will be friends, no matter where you go, but only if you’re really lucky.
So I will leave you with the words of the song–and if you know it, find some folks to sing it with!
Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.
A circle is round, it has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend.
Till the next time, dear friends–and all others we meet on the trail…
Marjorie Turner Hollman
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! Marjorie 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