The trees are still leafless, but I see hints of red on the swamp maples at the edge of our yard. A recent walk in the woods nearby offered my first glimpse of skunk cabbage, just poking up above the leaf litter.
The footing is still icy in places. Those shady spots where the sunshine is not quite able to reach leave slick surfaces for those not paying close attention. For children, the ice offers some fun slip and slide games, while others of us do our very best to skirt these icy patches when we can.
We took my grands into the woods with us and shared with them some of the history of the area as well as some observations of the natural world as we walked. They listened as much as they were able, but were most taken with the physical challenges offered. A large, fallen pine tree became an instant balance beam they traveled along.
A narrow board across the small stream provided yet more fun as they easily slipped across from one side of the stream to the other, then back again.
Near the stream crossing we spotted the abandoned bridge abutment where the trolley line once crossed this stream. Unused for probably one hundred years now, I wondered that the stones had not been washed away in spring melt. In fact, this waterway never has much flow–it simply drains a small pond, which often dries up completely by mid summer. And so, the cemented stones of the abutment stand to remind of trolley tracks that once crossed this small stream, bringing crowds of visitor to Silver Lake, then after a day of fun, back home again.
A pile of rocks offered a chance to be “king and queen of the mountain” for a moment, then they were off to their next challenge. A steep slope offered yet another temptation for energetic children.
In a flash they grands had scaled the slope. “We can see the solar panels from here!” they called, reporting on the large solar installation the town put in a number of years ago. Descending this same slope was harder, but they managed in the end.
As we finished our walk, the younger one said, “This was fun. We should come back again tomorrow!” I would call that a successful walk. 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: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.