Finding Easy Walks right where you are

Spring is bursting out all over. Sometimes deep red is a precursor to the lacy greens of warmer weather.

Most of us, if we are looking for Easy Walks (not too many roots or rocks, relatively level, with someting of interest along the way) do not want to (or cannot) drive for two hours to enjoy an hour or so stroll. We need to stay closer to home. But we get bored taking the same paths.

I often walk at lunchtime, but to get out before the day warms up, I headed out in the cool of the morning, before the wind picked up, and spotted this mirror image on the lake of a nearby house

I get bored too. So here’s a strategy I learned somewhere along the way. By simply changing one thing–just one–I sometimes gain a completely different outlook. I’m really lucky to live near a really pretty lake, with an Easy Walk that takes me right alongside the water for just about the right distance for walking that works best for me. Seasons change here in New England in some spectacular ways, so often I simply need to wait a few days and the scenery along the lake will soon appear totally different from a few days before.

But our family has been feeling stressed and wishing to avoid people. This spring, several times we have taken a different route, away from the lake, and along an abandoned trolley bed behind our house.

Early skunk cabbage growth

We have had the chance to see some very different signs of spring. Along this quiet path through the woods, we have watched skunk cabbage poke its way up from the leaf litter

Lush skunk cabbage fills the wetlands alongside the old trolley bed near our house

and soon unfurl its leaves in glorious greenery.

Ring neck ducks were migrating visitors earlier this spring at the lake

Spring and fall bring migrating birds to the lake, so by keeping my eyes open, I can witness a natural occurence I missed for years, simply because I didn’t know enough to understand what I was seeing.

The princess pine is now lining the path we follow. I didn’t notice it earlier. This day, I did.

More skunk cabbage, sprouting along the SNETT in Bellingham

Within walking distance of where we live is a portion of the SNETT, and we headed out at the end of a recent rainy day and found just a few other souls also eager to stretch their legs. Skunk cabbage was making its presence known there as well, along this portion of the rail trail in Bellingham.

The new tunnel along the SNETT under Sprospect Street in Franklin. The newly planted grass from last fall has taken root and is thriving on the slopes of the tunnel

None of the walks we took were long. We spent next to no time in the car to reach where we were going (we drove to the SNETT trail head simply to reach the trail head more quickly–we could have walked there). And we spent no more than an hour or so for each outing.

An outdated sign at the Lake Street entrance to the SNETT. Yes, the trail DOES go through now, all the way to the trail head on Grove Street in Franklin

We saw nothing earth shaking. And yet, simply by moving, looking closely, and watching for seasonal changes, our spirits were lifted. Sometimes it’s the very smallest of adventures that can mean the most, often when we least expect it. Happy trails!


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy 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.

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