We are getting out very little these days hoping to avoid interacting with the Covid-19 virus. We are working from home, and making few social plans. After supper we headed out on a quick errand, and ended up doing a little exploring close to home. As we turned onto Mellen Street, off Grove Street in Bellingham, we hoped to find an access to the Upper Charles River. The sign said, “Bridge Out.” We stopped the car and continued on foot to see how close we might get to the river.
Turns out, the bridge is still there, still intact, but clearly not in shape to carry heavy loads. We tiptoed past the poison ivy encroaching on the path and found ourselves on the narrow cement bridge, looking out over the Upper Charles River flowing through Milford on its way to Bellingham and Box Pond.
In the distance we spotted cows grazing. In Milford? I guess so. They contentedly chewed grass next to the river, oblivious to our stares.
We heard a slight noise behind us, and turned in time to see two muskrats swimming toward the bridge, disappearing underneath our feet. One muskrat finally emerged out the other side, and swam upstream, searching for the perfect branch. An addition to their home?
As the sun set, the mosquitoes zeroed in on us, hurrying us back to our car. But we felt curious–where was the other end of this street? Might there be an easier way to access this little spot along the river?
After circling around the block as it were, we came to the other side of Mellen Street off Rt. 140, and drove to the end of this mostly residential street, with commercial buildings and access to an athletic field along the way. We spotted a path leading from the road down to the river bank on this side of the bridge, clearly used by local fishermen.
In the low light we spotted hard-working bats chasing mosquitoes. The bats swooped over the bridge, intent on gobbling up as many of the insects as they could. Yeah, bats!
The upper reaches of many local rivers are often not easy to find, so this was a sweet discovery for us. No secret to the neighbors, for sure, but a place of solitude we got to enjoy by ourselves (well, us and the mosquitoes and the muskrats, and the cows), in the quiet of dusk. Sometimes it helps to simply get out and explore. You never know what you might find. Reading maps, following the river on our gps helped. Having a companion who says, “let’s see what’s there” makes a difference as well. 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.