Author Archives: marjorie561

West Hill Dam–What a Difference a Year Makes

Ice patterns along the trail

As often as we have visited nearby West Hill Dam in Uxbridge, I am still surprised by what we find. One visit offered views of a bedraggled Great horned owl, sitting in stunned silence in the daytime after having been ravaged by a fierce rainstorm the night before. Another visit revealed a large flock of nighthawks circling over the filed next to the dam. Several trips have led to new trails recently built, or else much better marked than in the past.

View of West River, below the spillway

This visit offered two new discoveries. One, a small trail accessed from the back, less traveled side of the dam, to a pretty spot alongside the West River, downstream from the spillway. Picnic tables and granite benches invite visitors to stay awhile alongside the river. Another spot on the far side of the open field opened up to a newly mowed field. There we found a small side trail, a hillside garden, and a cluster of milkweed pods.

Patch of milkweeds, ready for monarch butterflies next year

On our way back we encountered an old friend from the Army Corps, Ron Woodall, on the trail. He explained that he’s passionate about trails and has been focused on creating new trails, improving trail markings, and had the newly opened field mowed and removed invasives. We talked briefly about planning Easy Walks at West Hill dam in the spring. 

Food for birds alongside the trail

My photo filing system for outdoor photos includes the date when I visited each location. As I filed my most recent photos from our visit this past weekend, I realized it was just about a year ago when a group of us ventured out on icy, snow-covered trails in this same area. We have had snow this year, but right now the trails are mostly clear, with mere hints of ice in small areas. The cold is setting in for the winter, most of the leaves are gone, but we await real snow cover. Happy trails!

Snow covered field one year ago
Ice covered trail from one year ago–reminders of things to come

Marjorie

beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

More Easy Walks in Massachusetts

Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed

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Passing on traditions–Baking together

Checking out my mother’s well-used, well-loved copy of Joy of Cooking

In years past my granddaughter and I have spent time making salads, baking bread, and making cookies. But we had never made banana bread together. She and I had a free afternoon and I had bananas in the freezer just waiting to be transformed into bread that is great for breakfast (and other times as well!)

I reached for my mother’s “Joy of Cooking” recipe book, published probably in the 1940’s, and given to her, I suspect, as a wedding gift. Many recipe books have directions for how to make banana bread, but I really like how this one’s ingredients turn out. It must be the buttermilk. 

So many banana bread ingredients have fallen onto this page in the past!

As I opened to the page for banana bread, Nicole stared at the page and commented, “It looks like a lot of the ingredients fell onto the page!” We laughed, and I agreed that Florida Granny (her name for my parents were Florida Granny and Grampy) used this book many times. In fact, most of my memories were of baking banana bread with my dad. I suspect he had something to do with the “decorations” on the page too!

Egg cracking skills are getting some practice in Grandma’s kitchen

We got started and were soon assembling the ingredients, helping Nicole measure flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and butter. We paid extra attention to the teaspoon measures and practiced using fractions as we worked. Soon most of the needed items were collected. She cracked an egg into a separate bowl, I extracted a few stray egg shells, and on we went.

Chopping nuts!
Fun practicing using fractions using measuring spoons

With each step, Nicole had questions. What joy to share simple kitchen knowledge with my growing grandgirl, now nine and soon approaching my own height. She wanted a turn with the nut chopper and took great delight in whacking away at the nuts to pulverize them before dumping them into bowl with everything else.

Some mixed feelings handling frozen, then thawed bananas!

But the bananas were another issue entirely. She was willing, but not quite sure what to expect since the frozen, now thawed bananas were squishy, almost slimy in texture. But she soldiered on and got all the bananas into the bowl too.

Finished banana bread

Once everything was mixed and into the oven, she continued with questions. One question stopped me. “What will you do with this book when you don’t need it any more, Grandma?”

Ah, she is getting old enough to grasp that none of us lives forever, even if that’s not what she said. I admitted I hadn’t really thought about it. “Would you like it someday?” She nodded, and hugged me.

Passing on family stories happens in so many forms. Sometimes baking together and letting the conversation flow as our hands are busy is the most natural place to start. Making room for the next generation in our kitchens is a real gift–for the younger generation as well as those of us who have been around for awhile.

For those interested, here’s the recipe!

Banana Bread—older Joy of Cooking recipe

2 cups white or wheat flour

½ t. baking powder

½ t. baking soda

¼ t. salt

Cream together ¼ cup sugar

¼ cup butter, then add

1 egg

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, then

add 2/3 cup mashed bananas

add 3 T. buttermilk (I use powered buttermilk and add the powder with three T of water)

Add ½ cup chopped walnuts, place in breadpan, bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Marjorie

beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

More Easy Walks in Massachusetts

Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed

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Warm Day in December–Walk to the 8 arch bridge, Holliston

8 arch Bridge mid morning, early winter

I belong to a women’s networking group, N.E.W. that meets monthly, and this morning the meeting was at Cheryl Cohen’s Mosaic Studio at 360 Woodland Street, adjacent to the Upper Charles Trail in Holliston. After our meeting, one participant and I headed out to enjoy the trail–it was too close to pass up!

Fun gathering at Cheryl Cohen’s Mosaic Studio, with NEW members

We have had some frigid weather already, but the sun shone, and the air was still, a perfect time to get out and viit the 8 arch bridge, quite nearby. Danielle had ridden her bike here a few years ago, but had not seen the bridge since it was refurbished, complete with railings on both sides of the bridge.

Bogastaw Brook flows underneath the 8 arch bridge and out into a wetland

We took in views of the Bogastaw Brook, rushing underneath the arches after the recent rails this past week. But we really couldn’t see the beautiful stone arches that support the span over the brook. After we returned to our cars, I headed over to get some winter-like pictures (well, bare trees winter, no beautiful snow on the ground right now). I looked back and realized Danielle had followed me–she was curious, and made time in her schedule to come admire the bridge with me. Fun!

Danielle atop the bridge
A great day to be outside!

This was a quick stop, since we had spent most of the morning with our meeting and then walking, and then enjoying the sights of the bridge. Time to head home and get back to work. But first, we had fun 🙂 Happy Trails!

Closer look at the stonework of the bridge

Marjorie

beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

More Easy Walks in Massachusetts

Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed

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Group walk at the SNETT in Franklin

Gathering at the parking lot on Grove Street in preparation for a group walk


We arrived at the SNETT Trailhead at Grove Street in Franklin, and soon the parking area was filled with eager walkers. Some were Franklin/Bellingham Railtrail Committee members, others recently moved to the area, or recently retired and curious. One walker lives in Douglas and is active helping to develop the SNETT where it travels through her community. She was taking notes, hoping to learn from others about what they have done, what works and what hasn’t worked (yet).

Great meeting neighbor Rita on the trail

Volunteers are the heart of most trail organizations, which often take on the tasks of sponsoring cleanups, fundraising, updating information in trail kiosks, refill doggy poop bag holders, and so much more. They also, on occasion, sponsor group walks to help raise awareness of specific area trails.

At the new entryway, constructed with grant funds

I spotted one such group walk on a Facebook feed, and my calendar was open, so I pulled on my blaze orange clothing and headed over, having no real idea who would show up. These open invite walks are a hit or miss kind of thing–sometimes huge numbers show up, other times, no one. 

Water on the trail

I knew from walking the trail last week that with the recent rains there would be water on the trail. But this group of about 8 walkers and one dog were not discouraged. The sky was blue, we had no wind, and the temps were in the mid thirties. A great time to get out on the trail and meet some new folks.

Blue skies and bright sunshine at the Spring Street crossing

The SNETT in Franklin is mostly unfinished, with a small, finished  entryway making the trailhead more inviting, but otherwise, the former railbed still awaits attention from DCR to smooth out the trail, get the surface raised (above the water line) and clear out the drainage on either side. The humps and bumps created from dirt bike travel are still a challenge as well.

Ice along the trail

But these volunteers are nothing if not patient. Thanks for all the members who showed up to lead the way, for their patience in continuing to advocate for the trail, and for working with DCR to figure out how to extend the trail all the way into downtown Franklin (someday!) For those of us who could make the time on a sunny Friday morning, it was great fun. We’re looking forward to future group walks. For more information about the SNETT and the group of volunteers working to develop the trail, head over to https://www.franklinbellinghamrailtrail.org/

Marjorie

beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

More Easy Walks in Massachusetts

Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed

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Connecting trails in Hopkinton, MA–Whitehall Woods

Alke Whitehall, with fall colors, still lake water,blue sky

Lake Whitehall is a popular place in the summer, but at the far end from where most people access the lake, is a newly acquired property, Whitehall Woods, that not only connects people with the lake, it also offers a trail that eventually reaches to Upton State Forest. An intriguing trail, it offers an easy walk in the woods with views of some cool rock formations.

Wide open woodland path covered with pine needles
Very easy walking is found along the trails of Whitehall woods

When I visited in early fall, the trail was wide open and offered easy footing. The blazes are pretty clear, and directions toward Upton State Forest are pretty straightforward as well. Thus, you can enjoy a relatively short, easy walk, or you can choose to take an extended trek through the woods to Upton, MA.

Trail kiosk for Whitehall Woods
Trail kiosk is easy to spot form the  new subdivision’s road that borders the property

Access the property is from 203 Pond Street, reached by turning onto the new subdivision road and looking on the left for the small parking area. The land is protected with a conservation restriction, and combined with other open space, offers 2600 acres of continuous open space.

heavily forested trail with rock shelf
Some cool rocks await for those interested in exploring the landscape

Whitehall Woods offers a quiet place to walk and wander. A different atmosphere from its better known neighbor, Lake Whitehall, this is a place to visit when you are looking for a place to rest and relax. 

rocks and trees with hiker on the trail
John Ritz, of the Hopkinton Trails Club, was my guide on this walk

Marjorie

beech cliffs 2018

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

http://tinyurl.com/MTH-More-easy-walks

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Looking for dry footing–Great Woods Conservation area, Mansfield

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Beech trees glowing in fall’s low light

The sky was bright blue, but the footing underneath us was mud. It has rained the night before and we ended up in Mansfield and were looking for a place to get out an stretch our legs. After floundering about some on a very wet trail, we headed back to the trailhead and looked again at the map at Great Woods Conservation area. Continue reading

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West Island Adventure–Fairhaven, MA

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Quiet beach area on West Island

When a friend asks on short notice if you are free to go to the beach the next day, and the day happens to be totally free, you say, “Yes!” That’s how we ended up headed down the highway toward Fairhaven, MA, next to New Bedford. A less well-known town, Fairhaven has some lovely buildings and an interesting history. But our goal was West Island, reached by driving over a causeway, and still technically part of the town of Fairhaven. Continue reading

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Looking for Kettle Ponds in Sherborn, MA

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View of the pond through the beech leaves

Sherborn does not make it easy to locate their public spaces. Information is not posted on line about their public spaces. A booklet, Sherborn Walks, is available for purchase at Sherborn’s town hall. Written in 1992, it has been frequently republished, but does not appear to have been updated since 1992.

My book, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, includes the town of Sherborn, MA, but presently only includes Rocky Narrows in Sherborn. I am in the process of updating the entire book, probably adding at least another 15 Easy Walks, and Sherborn was on the list of places I wanted to revisit.  Continue reading

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Extending the Foliage Season: Easy Walks Goes to Tennessee

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View from the bluff’s edge at Stone Door State Park, Beersheba Springs, TN

More than half our grandkiddos live on a farm in Tennessee, Solace Farm Homestead, to be exact. Since we live in New England, it’s an effort to travel to see them, but such a joy spending time on the farm. Continue reading

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Still More Foliage-Riverbend Farm

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Maples are still glowing at Riverbend Farm

Since I was already in the neighborhood, I stopped by Riverbend Farm for a walk along the tow path. Foliage is still a “thing” this week, and even last weekend’s rain storm was not able to whip all the leaves off the trees. Continue reading

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