Since the beginning of the pandemic this spring, I have seen little of my sweet grands, even though they live in town. We are staying more remote than they have been able to, which has made visits difficult. But outdoor walks alongside Silver Lake work, with all of us wearing masks and walking apart from each other.
This has also been such a hot summer. Sadly, in the heat my legs do not work well, so that’s another thing that has keep me either indoors, or staying on the back of our tandem bike for outings. The cool of this morning was inviting, and it helped to have some company. Thankfully, the kids are close by so we could make plans on the spur of the moment, sort of.
Getting outdoors still takes preparation for me. Cooling vest in hot weather, check. Cooling scarf, check. Hiking poles to help with balance, check. Spray mister to use if I get too warm (I cannot sweat), check. Fanny pack to hold mister and extra water, check. All this to take a walk in our neighborhood with my grands. Yes, all this. The reward is my joy in taking in how my grandchildren are growing, hearing what they are up to, and simply watching them explore along the lake.
A few neighbors were outside and glad to see us, even as we kept our distance. Lynn told the kids that she remembered when their mom was their age. Connections–old neighbors help cement these ties–a blessing.
We said hello to the swans, but kept our distance. Swans can be aggressive, especially since we had nothing to feed them. Seeing the solitary pair of swans here at the lake is bittersweet. These nesting birds had a single cygnet, which clearly did not survive. Young swans and other young water fowl make tasty meals for snapping turtles. The parents must now wait till next year to try again.
As my children did when they were small, these grands wandered down to the water to get a closer look. This is the neighborhood where my children grew up. When they were young we walked this same path almost daily, and knew all the neighbors. Many of those neighbors are now gone. Their houses stand as reminders of friendly conversations we had over the years.
One of those neighbors now gone worked in demolition before he retired. As a reminder, he parked a large rubber wrecking ball at the edge of the lake. It’s a favorite stop whenever my grands come to visit. This visit was no exception.
As we walked, I suggested the grands look for white spots on the road. “It’s where the turkeys rest overnight,” I told them. “Look up when you see those white spots. There will be a tree the turkeys like to hang out in.” Sure enough, we found the white spots, and the trees, but this was morning, so no turkeys. They will return to the trees at sunset.
My daughter spotted the water snake at the edge of the lake. Too fast for us to get a photo, the kids were still able to see it as it slithered back into the water. “Cool…”
Purple loosestrife has made its way on shore next to the water, so we got to talk about invasive plants, and look for more purple flowers out among the weeds at the edge of the lake. Cat tails were part of the discussion as well. The sweet peas my former neighbor planted next to the road so many years ago continue to thrive, even as the rest of her plantings have been overcome with weeds. The lake offers so many opportunities to learn, just by taking a simple walk.
This was no power walk. It was a stroll, just my speed. I was grateful for the company, and the reminders of more normal times when walks along the lake happened much more frequently. As the weather cools (fall is coming, I feel sure!) it may be easier to arrange more visits like this. For now, my heart is full, and I work to remember the blessings of each day. When we have time to visit the lake together, it makes everything better, for sure. Even if it takes a cooling vest, cooling scarf, spray mister, and hiking poles. Whatever it takes, it’s all right. Happy trails!
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.