Falling for the Fells
2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. With most businesses and work places shut down, many New England residents found themselves embarking on personal projects. I for one, painted my bedroom, curated Facebook Marketplace inventory in my basement storage bin, ordered and put together a new desk, a new wardrobe, a new plant stand, installed curtains and curtain rods, among numerous tiny little details, all in an effort to create a work haven which would be up to date with my current needs and tastes. From the looks of Facebook, the people of New England and I were in solidarity, discovering our secret talents and passions with the blessing of the extra time that the Covid-induced lockdown provided. In addition to personal fancies, many of us were discovering balance in our lives through a blending of our work and personal lives. Zoom became the new hot item that everyone had to have. Businesses that were paying lip service to online and social media advertising and client communication were given a push out of the proverbial nest into a full-fledged online marketplace! It was do or die.
However, this fairy tale quickly faded into reality once weeks turned into months, and months spanned half a year. Political tensions added a heavy haze to the already prevalent feelings of isolation. The things I missed the most included my daily coffee, and working out of Caffe Nero in Arlington center, my weekly lunch at the Royal Bistro in Lexington with my best friend, shopping at Assembly Row, and hanging out with my work buddies at the office. I remembered a colleague had once invited me for a local hike, but I had never taken him up on the offer. I decided to give him a call and he asked me to meet him at Sheepfold parking lot at the Middlesex Fells Reservation. The upper parking lot overlooks a large meadow which the locals use as an off-leash dog park. If you turn right into the woods, you will find yourself on the skyline trail, a moderate trail with beautiful views of surrounding lakes and hills. One would never know by pulling off of route 93 and into the narrow driveway towards the parking lots, that what lies before them includes 2,585 acres of land and five reservoirs! The reservation has over 100 miles of hiking trails, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and mountain climbing. Trailheads are accessible from I-93 at exits 33 and 34, and 35 Southbound. Fishing is offered on Dark Hollow Pond. Other facilities include picnicking areas, an observation tower, and a tot lot. A concessionaire offers sailing lessons and rentals of kayaks, canoes, pedal boats and row boats on Spot Pond during summer. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how many individuals had ventured out to share in what nature has to offer, even if at a distance from each other.
I have since gone back many times per week. I enjoy the fact that the Fells offer a space where we can be alone together. Sometimes I encounter a sole person with their dog, sitting by the water. Sometimes I walk away with just a wave or a smile, and sometimes I walk away with a new friend. I always walk away with a feeling of awe inspired by the beauty of changing leaves, the dreamy quality of the sunlight painted water, or the expansiveness of endless trees.
During a time when things and people can be taken from us without warning, it is comforting to recognize that our beautiful planet and our solidarity as a human community will always be available as a refuge.