For some time now I’ve had it in mind to measure the progress of the crews developing the Rail Trail that passes conveniently close to my residence. The weather being what it has been of late and not encumbered by PHSS (Post Holiday Stress Syndrome) or its accompanying alcohol poisoning I decided to take a stroll.
The way was clear, rocky but flat with only marginal sloping sides affording me easily navigable walking. The promise that the trail held was evident the moment I stepped foot on the trail’s opening on Rt. 2A adjacent to the bridge over Nashoba Brook. Tentatively I began to walk down the muddy path that reminded me of a tunnel through the woods and called to mind my favorite verse from Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
But it wasn’t evening and it wasn’t cold, certainly not enough to snow but my imagination could envision this place shortly after a fresh snowfall, the trail void of any sign of previous travelers with the exception of a few woodland creatures, coyote, squirrel or deer. I could see a magical wonderland of solitude just for me and a few select friends of course.
Peaceful, serene, and inviting; in I went, thankful for this balmy weather that precluded the presence of annoying flying insects because all around me are the habitats favorable to fluid sucking denizens like the mosquito, black fly, or the dreaded tick. This trail was originally cut directly through the wetlands with the precision of railroad engineers who had little regard for aesthetics. They were concerned with speed and accuracy, not enhancing the natural beauty of a place for future generations. It doesn’t matter now though because the repurposing of old railroad tracks for public space has afforded me this opportunity to walk among Gods wonderful gifts on Christmas Day. For that I offered a special thanks during my daily prayers,
‘To She from whom all blessing flow
We give thee thanks from all us creatures here below.
We praise thee above thy heavenly hosts,
Mother, Son, and Spirit most.”
Deeper and deeper down the trail I went driven by curiosity and the silence that surrounded me; the only voices I heard were those inside my head. There were sounds, to be sure, but hardly offensive are the sound of babbling brook, the occasional bird song and the rustle of the wind through the denuded trees, all of them a welcome cacophony of nature’s solace.
There were some objects out of place, a Nativity Scene sheep stolen, no doubt, by some adolescents thinking it humorous to abscond with a local community’s Christmas Decoration. Perhaps they believed it hilarious to leave it way out in the woods as an act of beer induced civil disobedience. Since Acton has no Civil War Monuments to desecrate, to my knowledge, I guess the faux sheep had sufficed.
Deeper still I walked until I passed the foul smelling Waste Treatment Plant, obviously functioning as designed and offering the only negative experience on this expedition. I was extremely grateful that the day’s temperatures didn’t climb above the mid sixties; still exceedingly warm for December 25th but nowhere near what my olfactory senses would have been assaulted with would it have been a sweltering ninety degree day.
Finally about a mile in I came to my first obstruction, a plastic fence erected to keep people from progressing further along the trail. I could have heeded the man made warning and quit my outing but again curiosity got the better of me so I gingerly walk around the edge of the trail skirting the fence and secured my position on the opposite side of the impediment. Parked there was a large piece of equipment designed to move large objects and copious amounts of soil or other debris. Beyond that I spied yet another barrier, one that was intended to provide transport over a final natural hindrance, a small but uncrossable stream. Uncrossable for me at least, a few years past I’d have attempted to cross with hardly a thought but today this railroad trestle or what remained of it seem a foolhardy test of my hardiness. I guess I’ll wait until the workmen have completed a more amenable passage, one that I can safely traverse.
So an about face I did execute and enjoyed the woods in reverse with no less enjoyment on my part than the original. I have the promise of other days to walk these paths, perhaps when they are snow covered and that’s just fine with me.