Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 24, 2009 - Rockland Town Forest, Rockland, Massachusetts

It's what your front yard would look like if you just let it go for good. It's orderly, in a natural way. And it's all that because it used to be a commercial nursery. But that was a long time ago.

It makes for a fun walk. Stepping off North Avenue and into the forest, I was greeted by the evergreen shrub section. Now, of course, one would not recognize them as the same spreading yews that we purchase at garden centers to hide our gas meters. Which is such a twentieth century thing anyway! Before we added ugly concrete foundations to our homes, we planted our rhododendrons and other yard ornamentals away from the house. Now we surround our homes with legions of view-shielding bushes, embarrassingly trying to divert the attention of passersby from the cosmetic flaws of modern architecture.

Back to the evergreens. Rather than leaning down to run my fingers over the tops of little shrubs, I found myself marching down a corridor through gigantic yews run amok. They presented a perfect cathedral.

That's the way the forest continued for the next few minutes. In a section of evergreen trees, which looked like a scene from the attack of the giant arbor vitaes, several picnic tables hinted at future potential luncheon visits. But suddenly, the orderliness abated.

There's a sign at the beginning of the trail, leading through those monster shrubs, that says "Bird sanctuary, .2 miles." Once I moved beyond the remnants of the old nursery, French's Stream trickled through the woods, and birds sang spring songs. The brook pushes through the woods, sometimes diverting into two separate flows, ultimately returning to one. It meanders along an old stonewall, and sometimes through it. Someone has been back here building makeshift bridges, extending the trail. At one point I wondered whether or not I had left the forest and entered the former naval air station property, but then I remembered Spruce Street, which borders the base. Unless I had blacked out during my walk, that was impossible.

An old wire fence here has held up through the years, stoically defending a territory long forgotten. But it, too, has fallen prey to nature, swallowed up by a tree that now bears closed scars around the metal in a pattern of right angles.

Rockland was urbanized with the Plymouth County shoe industry rush of the 1800s. Open space here is a t a premium. A stretch of woods like this in a place known for its litany of factories is a godsend. This place put a smile on my face.

Time: 35 minutes.
New species: None today.
Stranger hellos: None.
What else happened today: Worked for eight hours; participated in a group travel meeting with representatives of the other attractions and accomodations of Plymouth County; picked up the car after a few repairs; attended the Bruins-Panthers game at the TD BankNorth Garden.

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