Kind of spooky. That's the only phrase I can think about that describes the sensation of walking into these woods.
It has nothing to do with the small cemetery that appears on the righthand side of the trail at the edge of the woods. These discoveries are always a lot of fun. Not for the inhabitants of the cemetery, of course, but for the walker. There's a sign that tells of the West Hanover Cemetery's history, which dates to the early 1800s, and says that in 1961 there were four trees growing inside the fence that surrounds it. There still are, nearly 50 years later.
No, the spookiness that hangs heavily in these woods is dervied with something that happened long before today. The first brook crossing that one comes to here was the site of an oild mill, owned by a man named Eliab Studley. Eliab built the mill in 1730, and the brook, Studley Mill Brook, now bears his name. In 1766 he was on his way back home from his woodlot, no doubt in these woods, judging by the cart path I walked today, when he was struck by lightning and instantly killed.
There was no lightning today, but the skies certainly looked like rain was in the offing, and at 29 minutes in, I figured I was done for. I didn't see it or feel it, but I suddenly heard a shift in the sound of the beech leaves. To that point, they were tinkling against each other in the breeze. Then, the sound became a pinging, a constant and rhythmic tapping. Rain. But it didn't last. I had worn my raincoat in vain.
The main trail (there are spurs that I did not take today) crosses Cushing Brook farther in, through a typical forest for the region: oak, eastern white pine, beech, American holly, etc. It ends in a boardwalk, at the far end of which there is a sign warning against poison sumac. Hmm, could have used that when I started this walk.
The temperature stepped above 50 today, but don't believe the hype. Winter is still here. The turtles, when they emerge from the mud, will let us know when spring is here. The tree swallows, when they return from the south, will let us know. The chipmunks will let us know when they start scurrying around the yard again. The puss willows will let us know. The skunk cabbages, well, they've already started to push through the muck. But what the hell do they know.
Time: 107 minutes.
New species: None.
Stranger hellos: 2 (116).
What else: Eight more hours of work; led a book club discussion on Beluga Days by Nancy Lord; reviewed it on Amazon.com; wrote an article on Peter Bradley's Hingham Stock Farm for South Shore Living magazine.