2020 has been a challenging year for most of us, and certainly more challenging for some than others. For those of us lucky enough to have kept healthy, we are keenly aware that often, remaining healthy has come at the cost of incredibly loneliness. and facing a different Thanksgiving, we wondered if we could do something different to help ease the loneliness just a little. Easy Walks lend themselves to time with older family members. It works for me too. The day promised to be overcast, and rather than plan a shortened visit, we suggested family meet us at a local trail where we could enjoy time taking an Easy Walk together.
The biggest challenge? Many others seem to be thinking along these same lines. Where to go? On our previous visits to Noanet Woodlands in Dover, we have seen few other visitors. We thought this might be a good destination. Rocky Woods in Medfield is nearby, and as we passed the entrance we saw a full parking lot. Yes, a good choice to bypass Rocky Woods. But when we reached Noanet on Powissett Street in Dover, the Trustees of Reservation, who oversee this land, had three parking attendants working hard to control the crowd. What a sober reminder of the challenges these non-profits have working to keep visitors safe as people seek the solace of the outdoors in this difficult time. So much for our strategy of heading outside on an overcast day!
We had driven past Powissett Farm, quite nearby, another Trustees property, and had noticed few cars there. “Be willing to explore” is a strategy we use, along with “Have a Plan B”. We’d never stopped at the farm, but perhaps we could find a relatively level spot to enjoy some time together outdoors. We were surprised and pleased with what awaited us there.
It may be that people hear “farm” and think it is simply a walk around a hay field, or simply a place to stop at their farm store, or collect their CSA farm shares. Instead, we found a story walk along the mowed trail around the garden beds, with two additional pastures with mowed circular paths around the edge of the pastures. No animals were in the fenced in pasture areas, but it appears these are used in the summer. Fencing was in good shape.
We saw signs for additional woodland paths, but because of the threatening rail chose not to explore farther on this visit.
The walking paths, clearly used for trucks and tractors to traverse the farm, are great places to Easy Walks. They must have recently been mown, since the paths were clear of leaves, making it easy to spot the very few rocks in the path.
The overcast day threatened to turn into a rainy afternoon as we neared the end of our walk, but when we returned to our cars, the mist let up. We had come prepared, and pulled out our camp stove, pot, beef stew, cups, and spoons, and within a few minutes were enjoying a little tailgate party. Perhaps the best part of this was the surprise, and chuckles. Yes, sometimes things work out the way we hope they will.
We had no spectacular views, no challenging trails, just a simple Easy Walk, checking out the pigs in the nearby enclosure, the remnants of crops now frozen, facing winter, and lonely open pastures on this 109 acre farm. And yet, we had time together, sharing a brief meal, with a chance to recall that there are many ways to celebrate what we are thankful for. May you face the challenges in your life with hope, creativity, and an attitude of gratitude for what we do have, rather than all we do not. Blessings on each of you, and happy trails.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy 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: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.
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.