I had grand plans for my visit with Sue, a long-time friend, and former neighbor, who now lives just down the street from Bird Park in East Walpole. We would visit with her new grandson, then head over to check out the new boardwalk in the town forest.
But when you babysit a new grandboy, plans often do not turn out as you might imagine. We got started late, we played with the little guy for a while, and finally pulled ourselves together on an unseasonably warm December morning to take a walk right in the neighborhood, which meant, Bird Park.
As soon as the stroller started moving, the little guy’s eyelids drooped, and for the remainder of our walk he was blissfully unaware of the world, cozy in his quilted blanket stroller. We rumbled over pine cones on the sidewalk. ‘That’s the work of the turkeys,” Sue told me. “We keep trying to clean things up but the turkeys have other plans.” Indeed, kind of like life.
Many other folks had the same idea we did, and as we walked through the park we met folks sitting in the sunshine on benches, walking dogs, riding bikes, and walking alone. Sue and I have taken many “walks and talks,” over the years, but it was fun to hear her commentary on this park where she walks often. It had been awhile since I had last visited, and I noticed a few changes.
The biggest change, although not big in size, was the replacement of the water fountain in the pond that was once the two swimming pool. Rather than a simple nozzle, three frogs now grace the middle of the pond.
At the end of the pond we also noticed a line of large square rock pads–perfect for hopping across the water to reach the other side. Neither of us recalled seeing these before. The alternate path across the pond added a whimsical touch to the pond. As for us, we stuck to the gravel path that took us all the way around the pond,
with bridges on either end of the pond to get us form one side to the other.
On our way back we spotted a decorated Christmas tree, perched between the two bath houses.
Sue climbed up to get a closer look. I recalled spending an entire summer stationed at this location years ago, as a camp counselor in a camp, run by the town, for special needs children.
The buildings appear relatively unchanged, but the small and larger difference the Trustees of Reservations, who oversee the park have made, are impressive in totality. I on the other hand, have a very different life from when I rode a bike from the house where I rented a room for the summer, over to the park each day.
We headed home, with a baby still fast asleep in the stroller. We returned the little guy to his mother, who was happy to have a small break. I heard she even stopped and treated herself to a cup of coffee, alone. Happy grandmas, a contented baby, and a mother who got some time to herself. And the best part? Shared time outside, doing what we have enjoyed so often together, walking and talking.
Happy holidays, and happy trails, wherever they may take you.
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.