Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 31, 2008 - Bare Cove Park, Hingham, MA

The sideways-blowing snow sounded like bacon starting to sizzle in a frying pan as it hit the still-clinging leaves of the beech trees, and it was making me hungry. It was just after 9 a.m., and I had time to kill. I'd walked Bare Cove before, but never from this point of entry. And when I did, it was in another lifetime. Back then, twenty years ago, I was landscaping by day and at night. Now, I walk for a living, and do what I'm doing now by night. I write. A lot.

Bare Cove has always intrigued me. It's a former military site, the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot, in use before World War I, as evidenced by its stretches of macadamized road. President Nixon gave it to us walkers as part of his Legacy of Parks program in the early 1970s. The rest of the former infrastructre, what little of it that remains, bears that early twentieth century time stamp as well: ancient fire hydrants, concrete foundations with stairs that lead to platforms where buildings once stood, and powerless utility poles that appear unexpectedly in the woods.

There is life here. Dozens of people are walking their dogs on the wide trails, even in the face of the coming snowstorm. I hear ducks dabbling in Tucker's Swamp, and pinpoint them through the trees with my binoculars as mallards. A flock of robins noisily forages beneath cedar trees, joined here and there by dark-eyed juncos. Out in Bare Cove, Canada geese, American black ducks, buffleheads and a smattering of red-breasted mergansers tighten their flocks as the snow increases. A hairy woodpecker chirps loudly as I walk briskly past.

No matter how much life I see in places like this, it's the crumbling remains that catch my mind. Who, specifically, was here before? Where are their stories kept, or did they even leave them behind before they left this world? My thoughts wander in step with my legs.

I planned on making this my New Year's Resolution, a half an hour a day on foot. But I couldn't wait. I'm 37 years old, 275 pounds, hypothyroid, pre-diabetic with a dead gall bladder, and I'm frustrated about my health. No matter what I have to do, in 2009, I will walk for a half an hour a day, at least.

Time: 59 minutes

Other accomplishments: car inspection (failed), son's two-month doctor's appointment (passed). read 30 pages in Robert Spear's The Great Gypsy Moth War.