Category Archives: Blog posts–Easy Walks

Making Friends Along the Trail

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Liz Harkins with Mike Spurling, her crack camera crew, stop for just a moment so I could get their picture

I met Liz last year when we were publicizing the Massachusetts Walking Tour, which came through Milford on its tour of the Blackstone Valley and nearby towns. She works for the Milford Cable TV station and conducted an interview with the folks of the Walking Tour, and with me as well.

She got really excited when she learned about the Easy Walks in Massachusetts trail books I author. We kept talking about doing some kind of video taping along the trail to help publicize my books and to help viewers understand what a gift we have right in our own backyards in this area. Continue reading

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Bats boxes at Riverbend Farm

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Getting bat boxes ready at Riverbend Farm

It was an afternoon program during school vacation, and several families showed up to Riverbend Farm to learn about bats.  We saw no live bats (it was a daytime program, plus a little early for the bats to start coming out) but in fact, we were learning about bats, not getting up close and personal with the critters.

Amanda Melinchuk, Bat Research Monitor with Massachusetts Division of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) brought a slideshow of Myths and Facts, to help educate us about bats in general, and local bats in particular, and also to increase understanding about the challenges bats face. Continue reading

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Joys of Volunteering Part 2

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Heritage Corridor volunteers getting a private historical tour of the grounds near the Kelly house in Lincoln, RI

As though our recent adventure out to Northampton with the Blackstone Heritage Corridor was not enough, Corridor volunteers were treated to a spring Thank you picnic (during Volunteer week–the timing was perfect!) at the Kelly House in Lincoln, RI, along the Blackstone Bikeway. Somehow we ended up with one of the very few bright and sunny days in a week of near monsoon-like weather, which allowed for a trip along the bike trail for the Bike Ambassadors, a personally guided tour of the area surrounding the Kelly house by Ranger Kevin Klyberg, and a delicious outdoor picnic dinner as well. Continue reading

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The Unexpected–Checking Up On the Neighborhood

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Mute swan swimming alone at Silver Lake

Mute swans nest at Silver Lake almost every spring, and we have been lucky enough to watch these large birds shepherd their little ones all summer and into the fall, when they are finally ready to learn to fly. But as I approached the spot I’d seen the swan perched on when I’d visited the lake a while ago, something did not look right. Continue reading

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The Joys of Volunteering!

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Getting practice helping a person into an adaptive bicycle

I come from a long line of volunteers. My parents often volunteered their time, volunteered their home, made meals for those in need, and simply modeled that when you have the resources to share, it’s a nice feeling to offer a hand when the need is apparent.

Volunteering also has benefits. Sometimes it’s simply creating the opportunity to get to know other like-minded folks who also enjoy spending time helping others. Other times you see that your meager efforts have made a difference. Sometimes you have a chance to get behind the scenes, or understand better what it takes to host an event. I like the chance to do a task that keeps my hands busy while sharing a job, be it painting, cleaning, or making pies or salads with others who have raised their hands to pitch in. Continue reading

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Spring before spring–Rocky Narrows, Sherborn

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Looking for spring along the banks of the Upper Charles River in Sherborn

There is a time when the calendar says spring is here, and yet, and yet, in New England, the landscape still has a bleak look. Buds are swelling, grass has started poking out, in the marshes green shoots reach skyward, and migrating birds have begun heading north. But the trees remain bare. Ferns remain hidden under the soil. Bushes hint of color to come. and broken branches from the multiple March snowstorms this year litter both yards and trails. Continue reading

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Fun in the Snow–Upton State Forest Make Your Own Storybook hike

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Happy smiles after a walk in the snow at Upton State Forest

I got some questions about whether we would cancel the Make Your Own storybook Hike scheduled for Upton State Forest. There had been (yet another!) nor’easter that had dumped up to 20 inches of snow in some areas, including Upton. But the snow was fluffy, and Division of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) staff members, Jody Madden and Kathryn Parent, were partnering with us for this event and did an amazing job plowing and shoveling so we could access parking and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) building, where we managed sign-ins and made our own books after our walk. Continue reading

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Migration time is upon us– Local sightings

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Scaups hanging out at Silver Lake to rest and refuel before continuing on their migration

Until a few years ago, I had no idea that our local ponds were part of the great highway that is where birds stop to rest on their short and longer migration paths. These wild birds are wary, and tend to move away from shorelines whenever they spot people nearby. It was a chance sighting in late afternoon light that clued me in that our local waterway, Silver Lake, was a waystopping place for migrating waterfowl. The bright red crested plumage of the red breasted merganser caught my eye, and since then we have come to see that large flocks of birds stop by each spring and fall. Continue reading

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Walking in Another’s Shoes–ADA Trails in Seekonk

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Easy walking in Seekonk

When I met Kelly, we immediately hit it off. Yes, we share mobility issues, but our back stories are quite different. Perhaps it’s our shared sense of irreverence. Or determination to get up and do something whenever we can. And so we planned an outdoor hike together. But you see, Kelly uses a walker to provide needed balance and a place to rest when she grows weary. And so we needed to pick some place that did not present unreasonable barriers for her. We headed to the Runnins River/Town Hall trail at the back of Seekonk’s town hall.

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Flat stone dust trail, part of the Runnins River trail at the back of Seekonk Town Hall

An thus began an education on what makes for easy walking when one is using a walker. Kelly quickly pointed out the different size gravel on the stone dust portion of the trail. ‘The fine stone is like sand,” she explained. “That makes it harder for me to push this thing along.”

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Hanging out on the boardwalk, headed to the Runnins River

We soon came to the boardwalk that led out to the Runnins River. As we walked and talked, we learned more about each others’ story. My friend Sue joined us for this outing and the three of us found lots to talk about. And then we came to the end of the boardwalk.

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End of the line for us–no railings on the step, and from thereon the boardwalk is too narrow for either Kelly or me to navigate easily

I’d hoped we would be able to reach the trail where there is a bridge over the river. But the boardwalk stopped, and the steps down to the continuing trail had no railing. The rest of the trail was linear boards, three boards across, a real barrier for Kelly, and a challenging barrier for me to navigate with walking sticks. This is not meant as criticism, rather, observation, with an understanding that cost is a huge factor in determining how much ADA trail a group can afford to build. I the past I have traveled on trails of the type we faced at the end of the boardwalk, and can manage with support, but on this outing, the boardwalk was as far as we were going together.

The trail eventually leads over to the nearby Turner Reservoir, so I suggested we head over to the Seekonk side of the Turner Reservoir trail, which has extensive boardwalks over wetlands that reach out to the southern edge of the reservoir.

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Out on the boardwalk on the banks of the Ten Mile River, Seekonk side

Once we reached the Turner Reservoir trail, I quickly realized that the boardwalk did not reach all the way to the parking lot. Kelly looked at the hard-packed dirt track and assured us, “I can do this.” And she did.

February is not the most scenic time to visit a trail, but it felt good to get out on an ice-free trail and take in views of the Ten Mile River as it flowed past the dam that created the reservoir. Sue spotted a bird paddling upstream in the river and asked me what it might be. It had been a while since I’d last seen one of these birds, but I finally remembered. “Scaup–greater or lesser, hard to tell since the difference is only an inch or so.” Sue and Kelly laughed. What a sweet time with new friends and old, creating memories as we walked.

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We made it! At the edge of the Turner Reservoir, Seekonk side

The trail out to the edge of the reservoir is all hard-packed dirt or boardwalk. But to see the reservoir we had a grassy slope to climb. Another challenge. Kelly let us know what she needed, and didn’t need, for help, and we worked our way up the slope to take in some water views. We startled some geese, which flew off to a quieter spot.

Heading down the slope was more challenging for Kelly, which mirrors my own experiences–often going down a trail is a lot more challenging, even scarier, than climbing up. The forces of gravity are inclined to hurry us along, and we who have little capacity for hurrying have to work extra hard to keep ourselves upright.

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Sue and Kelly check out the construction of the boardwalk along the Turner Reservoir trail, Seekonk side

Sue volunteered to be Kelly’s “front guard” and walked a couple steps ahead of her as we navigated the downward slope. Success! No runaway walker, and all of us returned to our cars upright and smiling.

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Sue checking out the homemade benches along the Runnins River Trail

I’m looking forward to finding ways to collaborate with Kelly in the future. What joy to spend time with someone who is able to hear my own experiences, nod, and say with confidence, “I understand how that feels.” The sense that one is not so alone. A very good feeling indeed.

To learn more about the yoga classes and other efforts Kelly is working on for those with mobility issues, go to her website, https://www.bylfitandrec.org/

Marjorie  Turner Hollman

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” 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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Partnering to Host Another “Make Your Own Storybook Hike” at Riverbend Farm, Uxbridge

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Enjoying running in the open field

Parents of school-aged kids often look for activities for their children during school vacation. Well, 68 (give or take–it was hard to count!) children, adults, and grandparents descended upon Riverbend Farm on the most summery February morning I’ve ever seen, to join us for a “Make your own storybook” hike at Riverbend Farm. Continue reading

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