River Towns #SOL

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photo credit: Dave Griffin

This summer I have been exploring the new-ish Assabet River Rail Trail (ARRT) that runs through my small New England town. While much of it is inland, skirting the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, the section within walking distance from my house meanders along a lovely stretch of Thoreau’s beloved Assabet River. The stone marker you see above marks the entrance to Ice House Landing, a popular kayak launch and small picnic area. My husband and I don’t own bikes or our own kayak (YET!), so this natural oasis is unfamiliar to us.

I have intentionally left a camera of any sort behind on all my walks thus far. When I have a camera with me, I find I tend to be constantly looking for the perfect shot and not open to taking it all in — sight and sound. Of course now that I’m writing this, I wish I had photos to share, but honestly, I don’t believe photos would do it justice.

The Thoreau quote, “River towns are winged towns,” conjures up several meanings for me personally. As a bit of a bird nerd, and just having returned from a week-long Bird Sleuth course at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology, I think of all the birds who make their home in this riparian environment. (I saw a Great Blue Heron almost immediately my first time on the trail!) Then I also think of the movement of the river and how it flows from one  small town to the next, connecting them with its own parallel trail. Lastly, I believe the ARRT has given the residents of the communities it links movement. It’s exciting to see so many residents of my town running, walking, and biking along the trail. I often see adults with children in strollers who now have a lovely way of introducing their child or perhaps grandchild to nature.

What a treasure, and how grateful I am to have discovered it. Next time I’m bringing my camera!


Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?