Sunday, February 1, 2009

January 31, 2009 - Two Mile Reservation, Marshfield, Massachusetts

The name has nothing to do with the size of the reservation. Instead, it has to do with disgruntlement and frustrated entrepreneurialism in the early days of American history.

In the early 1600s, salt marsh hay was a prized natural commodity along the North River, useful in many ways, from feed to roof thatch to insulation. You filled your walls with it and called it "banking your house." Downriver, near the mouth, where the first Scituate settlers had begun their New World lives, there was a limited supply. So they pleaded their case in England for access to lands farther upriver and obtained a grant for two miles of riverfront land and access to fertile, muddy ground that produced abundant hay. The Hatch family owned much of the land over time, and if the area didn't get the neighborhood name "Two Mile," it probably would have been called "Hatchville." For the next century and a half, this section of what is today Marshfield, was part of Scituate.

The reservation is comprised mostly of dense white pine forest. Most of the trails are wide enough for a farm cart, with good historical reason. Two Mile Farm is still next door. As I walked today, a shadow shot across the ground in front of me. I spun and looked up, but missed whatever it was. While glimpsing skyward, I picked out a downy woodpecker pecking at a branch.

The trails slope continuously downward to the river's edge. The view of the river is of the saltmarsh, and not so much the water. Stetson Meadows is across the way. Unfortuantely, the most striking feature of the vista here is the Route 3 South bridge over the river. This section of the highway was the last one built. I'm glad I wasn't the one who had to make the decision to do it. Back then, in the '50s and early '60s, the idea was just to expand the highways across the country and open up the American landscape for the freedom to travel, but along the way, a lot of nature was chewed up. In those days, environmental sensibilities were a small percentage of what they are today. Although there are still those folks who will run over anything in their path on the way to a paycheck, there are at least now some guidelines they have to work by.

I was hit today by the stunning number of holes drilled by woodpeckers in the trees and snags in these woods. I wondered why. Why did they start these particular holes, and why did they stop before a nest hole could be finished? Or, in the woodpecker world, is a circular hole two inches in diameter and two inches deep considered finished? They drill for many reasons - to find food, to declare territorial rights, to find mates, for nest holes - so these holes could have been made for any number of purposes. I will never claim to be inside the head of a woodpecker. It must be noisy as hell.

Time: 58 minutes.

New species: None.

Stranger hellos: None.

What else is going on: eight more hours of work; went to Joe's 60th birthday party in Hingham.

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