Winter Walks-West Hill Dam, Stony Brook, and Riverbend Farm


Ice alongside the trail

I’ve taken a few pictures recently, but truthfully, the outdoors has looked pretty dreary since rain washed all our snow away. There’s been ice on lots of trails, so getting out has been challenging. But we headed to West Hill Dam to get outside, and found some amazing ice, and thankfully, most of it was NOT on the trails!


Woodland alongside the West River is covered in ice from when the river overflowed its banks in a recent rainstorm

We ventured down to the banks of the West River, which flows through the West Hill dam area in Uxbridge, and found broad sheets of ice that had overflowed the banks of the river when the recent rains had washed through the West River watershed. The water had subsided by the time of our visit, but it was clear that a lot of water had flowed through this area.


Picnic tables near the swimming area surrounded by ice

Near the swimming area we discovered the picnic tables surrounded by ice–another reminder of how high the water had been just a short time before.


Ice tells the tale of how high the water rose in the recent rains

Large masses of ice next to a bridge were uplifted in odd angles, pushed here and there as the water rose, then subsided. The power of ice is a humbling thing to witness.


Beech trees clinging to their leaves through the winter

The next day we were in Norfolk, so we stopped in at Stony Brook Audubon Nature center. Despite signs warning of ice, we found the trails to be mostly clear and not very muddy either. The new boardwalk is a joy to walk across.


A busy beaver was here quite recently; the wood chips were very new

Once on the far side of the boardwalk, we found signs of very recent beaver activity. I hadn’t noticed it,


Beaver lodge visible off shore from the boardwalk

but on our way back over the boardwalk I easily spotted the nearby beaver lodge, out in the middle of the wetlands.


More beaver activity, and signs of the beaver’s trail

We found not much else to take pictures of other than signs of beaver. The landscape felt quiet and gray, subdued.

And now we’ve had a quick snowstorm. Only two inches was predicted, yet when I headed out for Riverbend Farm in the morning I realized a lot more snow had fallen than we’d expected. The parking lot was plowed, so getting in and out was easy, thanks to the hard-working staff at Riverbend Farm.


Riverbend farm blanketed in snow

Once my meeting was over, staff member Kathryn headed out on the trail with me to get some quick pictures of Riverbend Farm blanketed in snow. The sky was still gray, so the pictures came out rather gloomy-looking. But I take what I can get. I hear the sun will come out tomorrow.


Hanging out with Kathryn at the stone arch bridge

As Kathryn and I walked, she talked about her nature journals, originally begun to help her locate maple trees in winter, in anticipation of tapping the trees for maple sugaring efforts in late winter- early spring. We spoke of the joys of walking in the same place through the seasons, and the value of observing one place over time.


The Blackstone River and stone arch bridge in winter

Just when it looked like my next post would be about how gray and colorless the world looks in the middle of winter, a blanket of white covered the world and changed the landscape yet again. We are quick to complain about the monotony of winter, the lack of color, and the cold. And yet, by paying attention, you may find that the world continues to change, whether you noticed it, or not.

Marjorie  Turner Hollman

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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