Author Archives: marjorie561

Winter Walking-St. Vincent’s Hospital, Worcester

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Liz (on the left) chats with St. Vincent’s staff prior to the start of the program

My friend Liz Myska is a force of nature, some folks say. She makes friends wherever she goes, and is amazing in her ability to persuade others to help with her great ideas. Five years ago, she wanted to combine offering a safe place to walk in the winter with an opportunity for her and her other visually impaired friends to help people in the community learn how to better assist those around them who are visually impaired. Five years later, her winter walking program continues. These winter walks have all taken place at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Worcester, taking advantage of their amazing, three story atrium, complete with a three story waterfall, live trees, flowers in season, and comfortable seating near the waterfall. Continue reading

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Quiet Easy Walk on the SNETT, Blackstone, Near Farm Street

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Portion of Harris Pond seen from the SNETT, Blackstone

The finished portion of the SNETT/Blackstone Greenway has received a lot of press, but a section east of there, still in Blackstone, offers some pretty views of Harris Pond that makes this section of the trail a real pleasure to visit. The trail between Farm Street and Rt. 122, as well as east of Farm Street, headed over to Bellingham, is not only high and dry, it offers water views along the trail, sometimes on both sides of the raised trail. Continue reading

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Nahant in Winter

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Along the shoreline in Nahant

We were north of Boston this weekend, and ended up exploring the coastline of Nahant, which feels much more like the rocky Maine coastline than a town within sight of Boston. We drove over the narrow causeway that is the only access (other than by boat) to Nahant, kept going, and stumbled across the Marine Science Center, operated, and presumably owned by Northeastern University, on a coastal spit of land in Nahant. Continue reading

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Easy Walks, No Ice–Holliston Rail Trail and SNETT in Bellingham

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Enjoying the story walk along the HOlliston Upper Charles Trail

While we have had some snow already, the trails at the moment are ice-free. The past several days we have been able to get out on our local rail trails with no boots needed. The Holliston section of the Upper Charles Trail is packed stone dust, as is the Bellingham section of the SNETT,  from Center St. to Lake Street and over to Prospect Street, which some folks may think is not quite finished. What I  have learned is that the crushed stone dust surface is much easier on my feet than pavement. I can wear sneakers or street shoes and be quite comfortable. The trails are clearly marked, and while not crowded when we visited, both trails had plenty of other walkers also using the paths. Continue reading

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Christmas on the Cape

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What we saw in the canal from the Bourne bridge–hundreds of eider ducks, male and female. A dating site for ducks?

We took a day to explore together on Cape Cod, and found some wonderful surprises along the way. From our house, the Bourne Bridge (on a good –that is light traffic–day) take about an hour. Christmas morning there were few people on the road with us as we headed south from Bellingham. No trucks, and very few cars. As we went over the Bourne Bridge, we spotted a large boat passing underneath us, and then realized there were thousands of birds also in the canal, right near the bridge. Continue reading

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Bird Park, E. Walpole, in Winter

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Happy Grandma Sue, at Bird Park

I had grand plans for my visit with Sue, a long-time friend, and former neighbor, who now lives just down the street from Bird Park in East Walpole. We would visit with her new grandson, then head over to check out the new boardwalk in the town forest. Continue reading

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Happy Birthday National Park, Happy Holidays

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Park rangers help Santa find his way through the park (and have a great time doing their work!)

Today was the 4th birthday of the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. It was also a time to celebrate the holidays with the Blackstone Heritage Corridor staff. Continue reading

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Foggy Day at the Beach Gooseberry Island

Foggy day along the shoreline of Gooseberry Island

The unusually warm December day found us at my favorite spot on the shore, Gooseberry Island, Westport, MA. The difference in water and air temperature created an impressive fog bank as we drew closer to the shoreline. The air was still, the water like glass. We could see only a few feet off shore when we started walking. We could hear, but not see, a boat a distance off shore. How far was impossible to tell. Sounds carries well over water, but we had no visual clue to help  us out, the fog was so thick.

Sandpipers hunting along the shore in the fog

Soon we began spotting a few birds–5 eider ducks quite near shore floated along, seeming to take a rest in the calm of the early afternoon. Then sand pipers showed themselves along the shoreline, 30-40 birds all busy pecking away amongst the rocky shore, hunting for tasty tidbits. 

Uncooperative birds refused to pose helpfully

My birding skills are not up to snuff–clearly these are in the sandpiper family, and the piping plovers have migrated south meaning these fellows are something other than piping plovers. I”ll have to check with my birding expert buddies.

Yup, there’s an opposum hiding in there, looking right at us

An opossum startled us as it scurried away from the surf, right past us, and quickly dodged into the scrub brush on the edge of the sand. He was too quick for us to get a good picture. His fur looked rather soggy. Swimming, perhaps? It had rained earlier in the day. Perhaps he (or she) was simply drying off.

Seagulls
Fog beginning to lift, creating stunning skyscapes

Seagulls and grebes became visible as the fog began to lift. The wind picked up only slightly. This is perhaps the calmest I have seen the shore in a long time. At the far end of the island is a point of land I always enjoy standing on, watching the waves collide form each direction on either side of  the island. On days of rough surf the power of the waves’ collisions is impressive. This day, the currents met with hardly a ripple.

Where lobster traps go to die….

The days are short now, before long we realized the sun was close to setting. In the west we spied glimmers of light working their way through the cloud cover. Time to head back. As we strode along the middle path that bisects the island, I shed several layers. The scrubby growth on the island shelters visitors form the windy shoreline, and I often get overheated on our return trip. This time I was able to enjoy the walk more, avoid getting overheated, and spotted animal paths into the bushes. Clearly deer and other animals, beside birds and opposums have found a safe haven on this small outpost of land jutting into Long Island Sound.

HInts of sunset

Till next time. Happy trails!

Marjorie

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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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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

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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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