Friday, April 17, 2009

April 17, 2009 - Turkey Hill Reservation, Hingham, Massachusetts

It took me seven minutes to reach the top of the hill from the parking lot, but less than that to let the memories come flooding back. I grew up at the base of Turkey Hill, at least partially. My family lived there from 1974 to 1977, taking me from three to six years old. I remember the horse farm that once stood at the top of the hill where the reservation now spreads across the crown, and even rode one of the horses as a kid. About two months ago, I led an owl prowl here for a local family.

Other members of my family, though, have alternative, longer memories of the place. My Uncle Billy, a Kentucky boy through and through, served here in the late 1950s when the site was used for tracking NIKE missiles. My father came up here to watch the city of Chelsea's massive fire in 1973, all the way across Boston Harbor.

Turkey Hill is a baldie, an eminence devoid of trees, save for one, broken down specimen at the top of the hill. It's a grassland, home to tree swallows and bobolinks in summer. The former have arrived, the latter are on the way.

The temperature was around 70 degrees when I reached the top of the hill, the warmest day we've had on the South Shore in 2009 to date. I'd had a long day to that point, but found the view from the top invigorating, from Boston Light to the Hull windmills to the cross atop Glastonbury Abbey. In my mind, I could almost see the most famous sight ever taken in from this hill, the battle of the Shannon and the Chesapeake in the War of 1812, and hear the American captain, mortally wounded, shouting those words so sacred to today's U.S. Navy, "Don't give up the ship!" Yup, this is a special place, for many, many reasons.

Time: 38 minutes.

New species: None.

Stranger hellos: 2 (170).

The rest of my day: Led our usual 3 1/2 hour bird walk, today in Lakeville and Middleboro, Massachusetts; bought a patio set; dinner out with Michelle and our baby boy, the first time since December; worked on the Captain's Guide magazine.

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