I’ve visited Hopedale parklands countless times since I first learned about this special place, probably fifteen years ago. Each season offers different surprises, and regardless of the season, there’s always something new to see.
But this morning’s walk was different in another way. I met Marcia at the main, Hopedale Street entrance, and we set off in the cool of the morning, before the day got too warm for me. Marcia teaches art at local high school, but we had never talked much about her work. We’re still getting acquainted, so we talked about family, children, all sorts of things.
It was when I got out my camera to capture a favorite spot–
a rock slope at the edge of the trail that my grandgirl and friends had used for a natural slide–that Marcia perked up. She started commenting about the natural beauty of the area. I explained that it had not always been this way; that landscape architects worked hard to make the entire parklands look “natural” when the park was landscaped, now over one hundred years ago.
We walked some more and I noticed the water lilies blooming. I soon heard about Marcia’s painting project this summer, to paint a different flower each day. “Maybe I’ll paint water lilies,” she said with a smile.
When we reached the stone bridge at about the half way point of what is almost a loop around the pond, she spotted swamp maples already shifting colors, anticipating the shorter days of fall.
The island just off shore caught our eye, as did a
small prickly plant I’d never seen.
Our return trip seemed to take little time. We talked of being teachers, and of working with children to connect with them. I told her of stepping off the cliff into teaching by sharing stories with my daughter’s kindergarten class, now so many years ago. Fifty children, two classes combined, were my first audience. To my surprise not a child got up and ran away. In fact, they stayed right with me for the entire program, and at the end the teachers asked me to come back. Taking a risk, doing something new, being willing to fail, opened a new door.
And so I took a simple walk, but by the end of the walk I saw some familiar places with new eyes. Marcia’s perceptions helped me take in a familiar place and gain a new appreciation for the design, for the changes of seasons, for the wonder in small and larger flowers. And that in itself is art–to see the common with new eyes.
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.