It took me quite a while to find my way into the park. There are no signs, no organized trails, no map. I walked Westminster Road, along the shore of Whitman's Pond, mostly looking uphill for an opening to the park. Two swans sat on the ice in the distance, content with the notion that if they waited right where they were, they woud eventually be sitting on water.
The houses here are built right into and onto the rock, which juts out of the soil at every possible location and angle. Many of the homes are small, probably lakeside "camps" and cottages for 1920s and 1930s getaways.
I eventually found it, or what I figured was it. It had to be it. I saw what looked like a trail and headed in.
The rock for which the park is named is quite obvious from the moment one steps on that trail. It's best explored from the far side. A huge chasm, twenty feet deep, splits matching rock faces. At the bottom, there's a tight passageway that leads, well, I don't know where it leads. But I know what it reminded me of, days spent exploriong the Polar Caves and Lost River Gorge in New Hampshire with my father, mother, brother and sister when I was a kid. I used to be able to squeeze through plenty of places like this one.
As with many of the parks just outside of Boston, vandals have left their mark here. Campfire sites, strewn with discarded chairs, piles of half burned newspapers and catalogues, and, of course, dozens of empty beer cans, pop up here and there. This place would be an amazing wildlife sanctuary if not for the self-centered and uncaring idiocy of youth.
Still, wildlife is thriving here. Our typical small woodland birds were noisy today, but they were no match for the red-tailed hawk that screeched out a call from a treetop. I've been fooled many times by blue jays imitating the large raptors, but when compared for sheer volume, the red-tail call wins hands down. We've all heard it. It's the call that's dubbed in for bald eagles on TV. I watched the red-tail lift off and start circling, riding a coilumn of rising heat into the air. Then, when the second hawk arrived and they started circling together, I realized just what was happening. Courtship has begun.
After the initial push into the woods, the trails disappeared. But today, in winter, it was easy to explore what the park had to offer. The rock rises and falls in ridges, and there are even freshwater ponds here and there. Glacial erratics, tossed aside by the mammoth monsters of ice, sit where they landed 11,000 years ago, some split in half from the impact. Down in one of the valleys an ancient stonewall was discernible. Even here, on this inhospitable terrain, someone had the desire to separate his property from others. It had to be used for grazing, as planting crops would not have been worth the while.
Deep in the woods I stumbled across the rusted old frame of an anicent vehicle of some kind. It sat next to a sugar maple snag, and right there next to the remains of the tree were two decaying maple sugaring buckets. I wondered who they belonged to, and then figured that the guy who left the car there probably knew.
Time: 118 minutes.
New species: None.
Stranger hellos: 3 (120).
What else is happening: Mom cooked dinner for Michelle, her parents and me; a few more hours of writing; started reading Surfside Life-Saving Station by Jim Claflin.