A Bench Nowhere

Although it is only 36F outside today, it feels like spring. I was out in the yard, clearing debris from the winter, when I heard a woodpecker in the woods. It intermittently jackhammered away, on for a few seconds, off for a few seconds. I scanned the trees for a sign of it, but I couldn't find it. I lowered my gaze to peer through the trees and decided that I would walk there later.

The town where I am lucky to live is a mix between suburban and rural. There are still many farms, and the zoning prevents it from being overbuilt, but most of the residents are professionals who commute, many of them into the city 30 miles away. A large fraction of the town is protected space, whether state park, national wildlife refuge, conservation land, or town forest. Even that which isn't is criss-crossed by many trail easements. There is one that runs up the edge of my property, although in my 6 years living here I have never seen anyone on it.

The street I live on takes its name from the seargent in the colonial army who had a farm on this land. He was one of the minutemen who was at the battle of Concord. Up until 150 years ago, this was all farmland. The land still bears the lichen-covered stone walls that marked the edge of the fields. They were constructed with rocks that  grow abundantly here.

This afternoon I decdided to walk in the land behind my house. I know on the map that in most directions it is less than a mile or two to the nearest house, but I hadn't explored the land here yet, even after several years.   I decided to take my walk there today. I did not take my camera, only a flannel jacket, a cap, and my hiking boots. I started by following one of the walls that marks the side of my property. I knew I couldn't get very lost -- a mile or two in any direction and I'd hit a street; but, I figured I'd make it easier for me to reverse my course that way.

As I walked, I happened on small ponds, perhaps 100' in diameter or less, with a thin layer of ice on them. I counted four of them. How long had it been since anyone had seen them? As I walked, I knew that years ago this land had been cut bare. Now, though, there were oak and pine, some of them 8' in circumference or more. The sky was barely visible and the ground beneath my feet was covered with oak leaves and pine needles.

Perhaps in the summer I might have heard the signs of suburban civilization: a lawnmower or chainsaw, but today the forest was silent but for the wind in the trees. I thought to myself that once people had walked over this land all the time. And now I might be the first person in a decade to come back here. Eventually I came on the ribbons that surveyors use to mark wetlands and property boundaries. I had been served as an abutter 3 or 4 years ago for a conservation cluster n of 5 homes that they wanted to put in. It seems construction was underway. The sight of the scraped earth was a shock after walking through the woods, and so I turned back.

As I returned, I happened on one of the ponds again, there in the middle of the woods. I continued walking and then looked back, something had caught my eye. I walked closer. Someone had erected a bench there at the edge of this small pond. I didn't have my camera, only my camera-phone, so please excuse the poor quality image.





The walk back to my house felt much quicker than the outbound leg. My house looked unfamiliar from that angle, the back roof just starting to be visible over the hill. I'm glad I decided to take my own path today, instead of one of the regular, marked trails that I usually use.
accomplice accomplice
46-50, M
1 Response Mar 26, 2011

desty, mctoady, thank you for your comments. the fresh air did wonders for me. i think i'll do it again today.