Top Hikes for Accessibility in the Berkshires

Being outdoors and in nature is beneficial in so many ways. From healing health benefits, building community connections, education, or just having some fun, the outdoors is a gift. And that gift should be available to everyone. But for many people with disabilities, mobility limitations, and even parents with strollers, outdoor recreation can feel preclusive because the expectations are unknown. The thought of getting outdoors raises worries – What is the trail like? Is it paved or gravel? Is there service in case of an emergency? The Berkshires is home to so many incredible outdoors spaces. But how many of them are accessible to all?
This list is in no way comprehensive. It lacks in covering many pertinent details that we have limited to no insight on. It is intended as a starting point for disabled people, friends and family of disabled people, parents of young children, and elderly people. It is up to us to create inclusivity for all – in nature and beyond. We’d love to hear what we can do better and welcome shared experiences and challenges when getting outdoors. Email us at berkshirefamilyhikes@gmail.com or join us in the Berkshire Family Hikes Community Group.

A wonderful resource is Everyone Outdoors, a community resource blog and recreation connection for people with disabilities and their families, friends, and supporters who enjoy the outdoors, are looking for new recreation possibilities, or want to share their experience and expertise with others.


  • Ashuwillticook Rail TrailThe only thing intimidating here is the name! Ash-u-will-ti-cook Rail Trail is an old railroad track converted into a 10-foot wide paved trail. The trail runs 12.7 miles through the towns of Cheshire, Lanesborough and Adams. Various access points and parking lots make for multiple entrances into the outdoors. Cheshire Reservoir, and the Hoosic River offer outstanding views of the scenery and wildlife. We’ve hiked it in the rain and lucked out seeing a snapping turtle!
  • Pittsfield State Forest – Located off of Berry Pond Circuit Road, the paved Tranquility Trail is a 0.6 mile loop. It features a peaceful forest setting and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips.
  • Old Mill Trail One of our favorites, this unpaved gravel trail is great for beginning hikers, families with young children, strollers, and some mobility limitaions. The first 0.7 miles is an accessible trail that follows the Housatonic river north. The trail continues for another 0.8 miles but is not considered accessible. There is a bridge crossing in the beginning of the trail.
  • Greylock Glen – The Glen Meadow Loop at Greylock Glen is a flat, gravel covered 10-foot wide loop which winds its way around the main part of the Glen for 1.6 miles. According to information from EveryoneOutdoors, “this trail is best accessed by driving past the parking lot on Gould Road (from this access point there is a climb to reach the loop trail) and continue driving uphill around a curve, past the small parking lot for Peck’s Falls on the left, to a second parking area for the loop trail on the right. It’s roadside parking on a hill, so it is not considered accessible, but for some it might be worth it because if you can handle the parking angle, it is possible to pass through the roadside boulders (45″ width” passage) to enter the loop trail area.” The views of Mount Greylock and the surrounding hills are unbeatable as well as the huge willow tree.
  • Mary Flynn TrailThis trail in Stockbridge begins with a 100-foot long boardwalk before continuing on a flat, gravel trail through woodlands of birch, pine, and cottonwood. There are two wooden bridge crossings. At the far end, the trail curves, narrows, and loops back alongside the Housatonic river, crossing two small bridges before rejoining the main gravel trail.
  • Parson’s Marsh – The first 600-feet of Parson’s Marsh in Lenox is crushed stone. Gentle slopes lead you to an accessible picnic table and bench off a short spur near the pond. According to EveryoneOutdoors, “the last section of the trail is 900-feet of curbed boardwalk, with a 41” passable width and grades not exceeding 7%.” The trail ends at an observation platform with views from the edges of the marsh.
  • Taconic Farm Estate/Tor CourtOnce a mansion home to Warren Salisbury and the site of a manhunt that ended with John D. Rockefeller’s subpoena, this verdant hilltop is now owned by Hillcrest Hospital. Drive around to the back of the hospital where a large parking area gives easy access to a paved path among the trees. The gazebo is not accessible (stairs only) but is a beautiful feature. The paved trail is not very long and you will have to back track in order to return to the parking lot, but the views of Onota Lake and the surrounding woodlands make this a low impact way to get outdoors. 165 Tor Court, Pittsfield, MA 01201 
  • DAR State Forest – This easily navigable trail in Goshen is dirt-packed and shaded, with tranquil views of the water. The trail is 1.1 miles, ending on a paved road. If you are looking to fish, there are three accessible fishing spots along the trail with sturdy metal docks out to Upper Highland Lake. If you will be parking at the DAR State Forest with a wheelchair, don’t use the public beach parking lot (the first lot upon entry). Continue following the driveway until you reach another paved lot on the left, giving you direct access to the trail without a trip around the beach. 
  • Savoy Mountain State Forest – The accessible trail starts from the main parking lot. Pass the closed restrooms you’ll find a paved path through the main area of the park. A left will take you to a picnic area and an accessible path to the beach. A right will take you to the trailhead sign for the accessible woodland North Pond Loop trail. Old stone fireplaces are visible along the trail. At the junction, bear left and loop around back to the paved road, returning to the parking lot via the paved road.
  • Pleasant Valley Wildlife SanctuaryThe All Persons Trail at Pleasant Valley is 1,700 feet in length roundtrip from the main office to Pike’s Pond. It is fully accessible and follows a wide path with a smooth, packed surface before leading to a boardwalk with views over Pike’s Pond. The trail is mostly level with a few moderate slopes. Narrated stops along the way are marked by signs both in print and in Braille. Prior to Covid-19 and the closure of facilities, you could pick up trail information including a guide in printed or Braille format, and a printed or tactile trail map, as well as other adaptive items, including hands-free binoculars (on a tripod), audio players, a large print version of the “Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds,” and a walking cane with a small seat. Currently the offices and other facilities are closed. 
  • Mount Greylock State Forest – Sperry Road to Stony Ledge Trail is a 1.9 mile out and back gravel road. Sperry Road is a well-maintained dirt road that takes you to the scenic lookout point offering beautiful views of Mt. Greylock and other mountains. Facilities and campgrounds at Mount Greylock State Forest are closed due to Covid-19. 
  • John Lambert Nature TrailTucked behind the Ralph Hoffmann Environmental Science and Sustainable Energy Center at Berkshire Community College, the John Lambert Nature Trail wanders through open fields. The meadow portion is well-mown but does have some slight grades and curves that make certain types of accessibility more difficult without assistance. The entrance behind the Hoffmann Center is NOT wheelchair accessible. There is a partially paved entry point just across from Melville Hall. This entry has a slope that may effect accessibility. This route will take you to trailhead behind the Hoffmann Center, so it may be necessary to turn around and retrace your route to get back to the parking lot. 1350 West Street, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Non-Accessible Entrance

Non-Accessible Entrance

More Accessible Entrance

More Accessible Entrance

 

 


As more places continue to open, we all must do our part to follow new rules about how to responsibly return to the trails. Though your chance of getting COVID-19 in the outdoors is low, you still need to bring a mask, take social distancing precautions, and wash or sanitize your hands more frequently. If you are feeling sick, please stay home.

Gold Diggers & Cave Crawlers – Widow White Reserve

Widow White Reserve                                             
Where We Went : Widow White Reservation – Lanesboro, MA

When We Went : Early April & again in Late May

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : Steep in places, but mostly easy walking on wide wood roads 2.5 Boots

Trail Length : NO MARKED TRAILS, wood roads are generally clear enough to follow

How Long it Took Us : 2.5 Hours

  Overview : A revenge rock and a cave – two things you wouldn’t be expecting    to see on a walk in the woods, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Widow White Reserve in Lanesboro, MA.

What’s a revenge rock, you ask? Well, it’s apparently how you express yourself when you’re an scorned windbag with some mean chiselin’ skills. Meet Captain John Brown. Born in Cheshire, Brown was a hot-headed stonemason. He was leader of the Cheshire militia in the 19th century. That is until he disbanded said militia because at a meeting he wasn’t called on first to speak…just to give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here, Petty with a capital P.

Enter Susan Baker. This gal was the richest woman in Lanesboro for many years. She owned Baker’s Tavern on Greylock Road, a popular stage coach inn frequented by travelers over Brodie Mt. highway. Susan also owned a multitude of marble and wood rich acres on Potter Mountain (location of Widow White). At 81 when 69 year old John Brown came ‘a courtin’, old Sue probably couldn’t bring the hammer down fast enough! I mean, the man had 10 children for pete’s sake – if he’d been more transparent he’d be cellophane. Now I ain’t sayin’ he’s a golddigger. But yes. Yes I am.

Johnny had his pride bulldozed and instead of shooting his shot and taking it on the chin, Mr. Brown decided to go for the King’s crown of pettiness – packing his trusty chisel and a whole bag full of bruised ego, he walked from Cheshire to Lanesboro, to the edge of Susan’s property and on an errant boulder chipped away this message:

“Capt. John M. Brown, Born at Stafford’s Hill, Cheshire, Mass., Oct. the 1st, 1808; inscribed upon this rock, April the 2d, 1878. May God bless Susan and all her barren land and when she gets to heaven, I hope she will find a man.”

Whewww, SNAP! Can you taste the bitterness…

john brown boulder

Brown’s Boulder in the 1970’s (Berkshire Eagle)

john brown boudler

Brown’s Boulder Present Day (BFH)

Four years later, Susan died, aged 85 and completely unbothered (my assumption).

But do you know who wasn’t?

YUP.  Old John “dog with a bone” Brown, that’s who. He wrote a follow-up to his original inscription. Although he never took the opportunity to gouge it into stone for all eternity, his family saved the verse and I offer it to you now:

“Now Susan has gone to her long home. It makes me sad, it makes me mourn. What a mighty shock, when I view this rock, to know that I am still alone.”

Good call, Sue – safe to say you dodged a bullet on that one.

(North Adams Transcript)

On the uphill path to Brown’s Boulder, you’ll pass by Baker’s Quarry Cave near a stand of white birches. Named for village belle Susan Baker, this modest hole in the ground doesn’t look like much. But for a spelunker like Clay Perry, caves like this were an underground wonderland. Clay Perry was an author and journalist, a transplant from Wisconsin who moved to the Berkshires in 1912.

An avid cave crawler, Clay explored over 200 Northeastern caves, wrote three books on the subject, (“Underground New England” “New England’s Buried Treasure” and “Underground Empire”) and even coined the term “spelunker!” (Note : If anyone has a copy of one of these books, please contact me! For armchair spelunking only.) Baker’s Quarry was Perry’s favorite cave and he led many conventions here for other cave-crawling enthusiasts. The cave stretches 150-feet and has been visited since 1847 if the inscriptions carved into the walls are any indication. The cave entrance was likely discovered when marble quarrying was done on this property, remnants of which you can also find. The brook nearby is aptly named Disappearing Brook, which disappears and reappears six times over a mile stretch.

I would NOT recommend going inside the cave. Cave-crawlers and spelunkers are serious hobbyists and professionals who know the risks and the equipment needed. If you’re curious about what’s inside,  check out this video Brad Herder took of the inside in 2013.

What We Dug : Would you believe that we didn’t see Brown’s Boulder or Baker Quarry Cave until our return trip? It’s true. We were on the hunt for both but somehow kept circling around the very things we were searching for. During that first trip the trees were bare and the glacier erratics stole the show. Everywhere we turned there was a bigger boulder than the last, another rock to climb, another outcrop to conquer. When we returned, we were on a mission. It was one we accomplished and truly enjoyed – who doesn’t love a good mystery hunt – but cave or no cave, Widow White is such a cool place to explore.

What We Could Do Without : The first time we visited Widow White, the trees were still budded and the forest floor was mostly clear, save for a few early spring ephemerals. What a difference a month makes! Widow White doesn’t have maintained trails but the wood roads make for easy walking.

Widow White in April

Widow White in May

Still, when we returned in May, it was full bore glorious spring and we found that the wood roads can get a bit lost underneath the new growth. Beyond being absolutely stunningly green everywhere you turn, it can be easy to get turned around, so please you caution, good judgment and a map.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: Captain John Brown Stone, Baker’s Quarry Cave, the remnants of a mill dam on Secum Brook, small quarries and an extensive stone wall, spring ephemerals like trillium and hepatica, jack-in-the-pulpit, birch groves, snails

Must Know Before You Go’s: Hunting is allowed in-season. Wear reflective clothing and take precautions. No Facilities. No Marked Trails. Silver Street is a dirt road and the parking lot is unpaved.

Directions: Widow White Reserve is accessed from an unimproved trailhead off of Silver Street.
From the center of Lanesborough: north on Route 7 to a left on Bailey Road. Follow Bailey Road north for 1.0 miles to a left on Silver Street. Follow Silver Street for 0.4 miles to the trailhead, which is at the top of a short steep hill, on a very sharp left-hand curve. Trailhead is on the right at the curve. GPS: 42.5472, -73.2520 (trailhead parking)

Website : https://www.bnrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/WidowWhite_TrailMap.pdf

Resources : https://mysterious-hills.blogspot.com/2010/03/recalling-perry-explorer-of-berkshire.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42Ate6oC-Rc

Scroll Through for More Pictures of our Widow White Adventure!

10 Quotes for Summer Solstice

10 Quotes for Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year is at hand. Taken literally, solstice means that the sun stands still. But like naturalist Hal Borland said,

“There is no standing still in any season. The earth turns, and the year turns, and sunrise changes, and sunset alters, day by day. And neither man nor his affairs stand still. Change is the only constant.”

It’s a good day for reflection. Here’s 10 quotes to get you started : 

“Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly. ” – Pablo Neruda

 

“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.”  – Henry Ward Beecher 

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer — its dust and lowering skies.”  – Toni Morrison

“Then followed that beautiful season, Summer. Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.”  – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Summer is a gentleman: slowly warming the earth at length before undressing her in the fall.

– Curtis Tyrone Jones

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” – Maud Hart Lovelace

“The first ear of corn, eaten like a typewriter, means summer to me – intense, but fleeting.”

– Michael Anthony

“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.”

– Deb Caletti

“When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome.”  – Wilma Rudolph

“Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and know that this was the first real time of freedom and living; this was the first morning of summer.”  – Ray Bradbury

 

              Happy Solstice friends!

This One’s For Beginners – Old Mill Trail

Where We Went : Old Mill Trail, Hinsdale MA

When We Went : July 2019

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 1 Boot

Trail Length : 1.5 miles, up and back (about 1 hour) First 0.7 miles is Accessible Trail, the remainder crosses Route 8 and follows the Housatonic River downstream. We only hiked the Accessible Trail.

How Long it Took Us : 1 ½ hours (30 minutes spent crying)

Overview : This newly opened trail was tailor-made for anyone looking to cut their hiking teeth or has an interest in history. Nature and 19th century textile mills collide in an easily accessible trail at the edge of the Housatonic River. The Housatonic Valley Association installed an interpretive trail that highlights both the natural and mill history of the area. Currently, in the capable hands of Berkshire Natural Resources Council, this proves you don’t need to travel too far to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.

What We Dug : Be sure to grab an interpretive guide and map at the trailhead (or plan ahead and download the app), so you can follow along with the numbered posts along the trail. We used these posts as “Power Up” stations on the return trip. Tag one and energy boost activated! Included in the tour is the remnants of a 1938 Oldsmobile slowly becoming part of the natural landscape. We had fun learning what a “penstock” is (technical term for a pipe that delivers water to a mill), and walking in the trench that housed such a huge piece of equipment. We tried to imagine we were part of the Housatonic rushing down the “pipe” while we made our way down the trench. It was really fascinating to follow along and learn about the history of the areas mill industry. We were also able to get close to the water for a bit and used the bridges as an opportunity to play Poohsticks

What We Could Do Without : Woof. We had the mother of all meltdowns here. Not sure what it was but we barely got 10 feet into the woods and both kids were crying.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : cottonwood, ash, willow, silver maple, hemlock, Asian honeysuckle, gray-stemmed dogwood, hobble bush, Japanese barberry, common buckthorn, song sparrow, hawk, vole, muskrat, barred owl, red squirrel, chickadees, egret, pileated woodpecker, brown creeper

Must Know Before You Go’s : Free. No onsite facilities. Partridgefield’s General Store is across the street and is a wonderful place for lunch or ice cream (if your kids behaved better than mine).

Directions : From the center of Dalton: take Route 8 south to the Hinsdale line. From the town line, continue 4/10 miles to a left on Old Dalton Road. The trailhead parking is the first, immediate left. GPS: 42.4480, -73.1305

Website : www.bnrc.org

Resources : Download their app by searching “BNRC trails”

Faded Footsteps – Arrowhead Nature Trail

Where We Went : Arrowhead Nature Trail, Pittsfield/Lenox MA

When We Went : Mid-April

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 1.5 Boots

Trail Length : 0.5 Mile

How Long it Took Us : 1 Hour

Overview :

“Leviathan, white whale – Call me Ishmael.

Sailor, novelist – A failure until posthumous.

Made a home here in the Berks, Hawthorne put up with my quirks.

Hittin’ up old Greylock, Catch me out at Balance Rock.

Wrote Billy Budd & Bartelby, Even messed around with poetry.

When I say Moby, you say Dick –

MOBY…DICK!

 MOBY…DICK!”

Although Melville wasn’t born in the Berkshires, his Uncle Thomas Melvill’s Pittsfield estate offered a much needed refuge and retreat from the drudgery that he faced in Albany at 13 years old. Herman’s father had died in 1832, leaving his family almost irreparably in debt.

At age 12, Herman found himself employed as a clerk at the New York State Bank, working long hours, six days a week for the next three years.

Excuse me? Can you imagine being 12 years old and suiting up for your job at the bank six days a week?! What…

Reflecting on his childhood in the semi-autobiographical novel ,Redburn: His First Voyage,, Melville wrote:

“I must not think of those delightful days, before my father became bankrupt, and dies, and we removed from the city; for when I think of those days, something rises up in my throat and almost strangles me.”

There’s no doubt that that first Berkshire summer of 1832 – Melville’s first break from the confining and monotonous tedium at the bank – offered him so much more than just a breath of fresh air. We can only imagine the profound impact that those sylvan summer days had on Melville’s soul.

So in 1850, when the wealthy Morewood’s moved to purchase his Uncle’s estate (renaming it Broadhall and the current home of the Pittsfield Country Club) and the surrounding 300 acres for $6500, it seems logical to think that Herman would curse himself for not having the necessary funds to buy it first. It likely stirred a deep-rooted feeling inside, a gnawing desire to break the mold of his destitute father and secure the very thing that impassioned him.

When an adjacent Pittsfield property went up for sale that same year, also priced $6500 (1/2 the acreage), Melville could hardly miss a second opportunity to reclaim his gossamer glimmers of childhood and prove himself as a man. Borrowing heavily from his father-in-law and incurring a mortgage, Herman was able to purchase Arrowhead in a harried fit of nostalgia.

There have been other theories raised to explain Melville’s moment of impulsivity. Michael Sheldon, author of “Melville In Love”

Subject to even more scrutiny is his relationship with Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Some scholars propose that this meeting sparked the impetuous purchase of the Berkshire farm, an attempt by Melville to remain close to his literary guru.

Writings of this odd pair have been scrutinized for decades, Melville the overzealous and infatuated admirer (a 19th-century “Stan” if you will.)

We can never know the true motives behind anyone’s personal choices, past or present, and too often historical conjecture misses the heart of human nature.

When I walked the trail behind Arrowhead I was walking in Herman Melville’s footsteps, maybe even Sarah Morewood’s and Hawthorne’s too. But try as I might to put myself in each of their shoes, my takeaway can only be personal. And there is one thing I know for certain. Whether you grew up in the Berkshires, like me, or you’ve been a visitor to these rolling hills and dales, you know all too well the mark they leave on you. And for any writer, is there ever a greater muse than the one you’re living in?

What We Dug :

While this makes an unparalleled accompaniment for the adult explorer, for the shorter set, try out the BHS Stanwix’s Scavenger Hunt! With two different versions, kids can feel challenged and engaged during their easy trek through the woods.

We printed off both versions and M & V each did one, then swapped and did each others!

The trail itself is easy to follow and equally easy walking. From the parking lot we crossed to the mown meadow path and upwards into the woods. Following the white arrowhead signs serving as trail markers, we searched high and low for the items on Stanwix’s Lists and found much more than we bargained for. A cache of wild ramps was hiding just off the path and our resident eagle eye spotted scarlet elf cups under a stand of birches. You can imagine young Malcolm (Melville’s eldest son) and little Stanwix running amok through the woods and catch a glimpse of the former Morewood property at the border of the neighboring golf course. Bring binoculars for meadow-side bird watching and don’t forget to look for the whale!

What We Could Do Without : Bittersweet strikes again…If you hike often, it’s likely you’ll see this serpentine strangler. Sometimes we see it just taking hold, while other places we see the devastation that occurs as a result of this merciless invasive. Melville’s woods are in the unforgiving grip of Celastrus orbiculatus. It hasn’t quite reached the levels that we saw at Longcope Park in Lee.  

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : Purple Trillium, Trout Lily, Wild Ramps, Crinkleroot, Scarlet Elf Cup, Wood Anemone, Foamflower, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Blue Cohosh, False Solomon’s Seal, Garlic Mustard, Springtails, Wood Thrush, Oven Bird, Gray Catbird, Downy Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Blue Jay, American Redstart, Common Buckthorn, Beech, Black Cherry, Hemlock, Hop Hornbeam, Red Oak, Sugar Maple, White Ash, White Birch, White Pine

Must Know Before You Go’s : Parking is in the rear behind the Red Barn. No Facilities. Arrowhead is currently closed for tours. No Hunting, No Mountain Bikes or Motorized Vehicles, Leashed Dogs OK

FOR HIKING GUIDELINES DURING COVID-19 PLEASE REFER TO THIS HELPFUL LINK FOR MORE INFORMATION – HELP KEEP OTHERS SAFE & FLATTEN THE CURVE!

Directions : 780 Holmes Road Pittsfield, MA.

From the Massachusetts Turnpike(I-90), take Exit 2 (Lee). Follow Route 20 West for 8.5 miles; it will merge with Route 7 North. Turn right onto Holmes Road at the traffic light. Arrowhead is 1.5 miles ahead on the left.

From points north: Route 20, Route 9, and Route 7 all lead to Pittsfield and intersect with major interstates. Consult your own maps for reaching Route 7 from where you are. Once you are on Route 7 South, follow Route 7 South until you cross the Pittsfield-Lenox town line. Turn left onto Holmes Road at the traffic light. Arrowhead is 1.5 miles ahead on the left.

Website : www.mobydick.org

Resources : https://berkshirehistory.org/visit-us/house-landscape-tours/

Power of Place by Marianna Poutasse

Scroll through for more pictures of our Arrowhead adventure!

Faded Footsteps – Arrowhead Nature Trail

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem.

Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihi.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo.

Dolor Amet

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt.

Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo.

Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam.

Join

Work With Me

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I took this picture on a recent hike and didn‘t think twice about it. I was going through my camera roll and it struck me differently. Tay usually writes the blog posts around here, but since it’s Mother’s Day, I wanted to try and write down how this picture makes me feel.

There’s something about Mother’s Day 2020 that emphasizes the true “super-hero” qualities that all great moms possess. These qualities have never been more salient to me than during this COVID-19 pandemic. Since Taylor and I started our family together six and a half years ago with our son, Mason, I accepted the role as the “bread-winner.” For years I’ve worked 50-60 hours a week at my day job and up until last year I also bar-tended 3 or 4 nights a week for extra income. I consider myself a hard working guy. My work ethic has helped define who I am. I’ve been promoted and recognized for it again and again.

Then as a result of the pandemic I was laid off at the end of March. Getting up and going to work is all I had known and suddenly I was told to stay home and “social distance.” I was incredibly fortunate to be home with my whole family healthy, safe, and secure. I thought to myself, “Wow I get to stay home ALL DAY and get paid for it? What am I going to do? I guess I finally have time to work on the house! Sure, I’ll have to help out with the kids and household chores, but that’s easy compared to what I usually do at work…

Fast-forward six weeks to Mother’s Day. Six weeks of helping Tay prepare three meals a day and supplying a thousand snacks in between. Six weeks of doing endless piles of laundry. Six weeks of sweeping/vacuuming the floor only to have to do it again a few hours later. Six weeks of battling, negotiating, bribing, and even pleading with my children to get them to pick up a mountain of Legos or a pile of Pokémon cards. Six weeks of listening to “I’m bored!” “Mason hit me!” “Veda started it!” “I’m hungry!” “I’m not tired!” “Can I play on my IPad?” “Can I watch TV?” “I don’t like chicken!” Six weeks of saying or sometimes yelling “It’s time to pick up now.” “You just had a snack 10 minutes ago.” “Mason please stop teasing your sister!” “Veda let go of your brother’s hair!” “Please get your pajamas on and brush your teeth!” “Are you listening to anything I say?” Now don’t get me wrong, my kids are amazingly well behaved. They’re smart, they’re funny, and they have incredible personalities. For every 10 times they make me want to scream and pull my hair out there are a million times that make me the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.

I can recall times I would come home from work and I could tell Tay was exhausted. But nonetheless she’d power through her fatigue and have a hot delicious dinner ready for the family. She’d make everyone else a plate and then finally attempt to sit down for a quick bite but without fail as soon as one cheek grazed the chair she’d be bombarded with requests and comments like, “Mom, can I have more spaghetti?” “Mom, I need more water!” “Mom, what’s this little green stuff?” “Mom, I don’t like this can I have cereal instead?” Even I would chime in “Babe can you grab me a drink while you’re up?” Then we would finish up our dinner while we reviewed the day’s events and before I knew it she’d have the entire kitchen cleaned, our children in their pajamas with their teeth brushed and be ready to read them a book before bed. All the while she’d listen to me talk about work or whatever was on my mind. She’d validate my feelings while simultaneously folding her fifth load of laundry and mentally preparing the grocery shopping list for the next day. Did I mention she also works part-time doing social media marketing for a local restaurant and creates all the content for Berkshire Family Hikes?

Being at home in the trenches with Tay for the past six weeks has shown a new light on what a mother endures on a daily basis. You see, it’s not about the fact that she can multi-task better than me, or that she’s a master organizer and incredibly good at budgeting her time. It’s not the fact that she’s more patient, more disciplined, and more resilient than I am. It’s that she doesn’t require credit or recognition to stay consistent. Remember in the opening paragraph when I said “I’ve been promoted and recognized” as a direct result of my work ethic? The recognition drives and motivates me as an employee to keep growing. But what if all my hard work was never recognized? What if it was just expected? Studies have shown that eventually an employee will develop a resentful attitude and regress. It’s human nature.

But how often is a mother promoted or recognized for the way she loves and takes care of her children/family? For the way she packs her child’s lunch box for school or helps them with their homework? Our society says “You chose to have a child so it’s your responsibility to raise it. You should be helping your kid with his/her homework. It’s part of being a parent.” This is true, but I would argue that we also should recognize our mothers for what they do every. single. day. without fail. For their super-powers – altruism and unconditional love. Somehow it becomes a seamless part of “mother” nature, one that is too often overlooked.

You see, moms don’t stop being moms when they are taken for granted. They just keep on loving and doing what needs to be done. They are the most unappreciated people in our society. How come there has never been a viral video of a mother simply tucking her kids into bed? That should get more “views” or “likes” than any video out there! But unfortunately it doesn’t. And I’m as guilty as the next person.

If you had asked me six weeks ago what I see when I look at this picture I would say something like “Snack time on the trail.” But when I look at this picture today I see so much more. I see all that led up to this beautiful moment. I see Tay helping Mason and Veda get dressed for the hike. I see Tay packing their snacks and filling up their water bottles. I see a mother spending quality time with her most prized possessions. I see my own mother putting in the work of raising me for the past 33 years and counting. I see all loving mothers who do their best each and every day.

Usually when we go on our weekly hikes Tay takes all the pictures. As a result, she’s absent from the bulk of photos. For some reason I grabbed the camera that day and I’m so lucky that I did. I got to see and capture the essence of Motherhood. I think the perfect caption for this photo is “Super Mom in Her Element.”

I want to recognize and wish every unappreciated mother who has dedicated their life to raising their children a Happy Mother’s Day. They say to look for the silver lining in a bad situation. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, I would never have had this opportunity to spend so much time with my family and see it from a different perspective. I’m making it a point to be more aware of what truly matters as I navigate forward. I hope the world can find and hang on to a more positive shift in perspective as well. I wish you all health and happiness.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you superheroes out there!

With Blessings,

Dan Loehr

Cattle Calls & Waterfalls – Glendale Falls

Cattle Calls & Waterfalls – Glendale Falls

Where We Went : Glendale Falls, Middlefield MA

When We Went : Mid-March

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 3 Boots

Trail Length : 1/4 Mile to the base of the Falls

How Long it Took Us : 1.5 Hours

Overview : For a town with a population of less than 600, Middlefield sure has a lot of history.

The first soldier to ever receive a Purple Heart Medal of honor, Elijah Churchill, a Revolutionary War vet, lived and is buried here.

Martha Stewart laid stakes on Clark Wright Road, humbly purchasing an ,1800’s schoolhouse on 50 acres. Living in this modest homestead without a bathroom or running water from 1966 to mid-1980’s, Martha credits this adventure as the catalyst behind her foray into serious DIY like plumbing, electrical work and contracting as well as some of the happiest times of her life.

The main room was very pretty. It was wainscoted, with a soft, beautiful pine floor. The house had no bathroom, no electricity. We bought it for $15,000, and it was a dream for us. That’s where I really learned how to do everything: electricity, plumbing, gardening, painting, spackling. I tried to build cabinet work in the kitchen and found out I am not a very good carpenter. I’m much better at plumbing.

Click here to read a journal entry where she reflects on fond Christmas memories.

Also located on Clark Wright Road, is Glendale Falls. Previously the site of 18th-century’s Glendale Farm, Revolutionary War veteran Captain Nathaniel Wright, settled on its 400-acres and began farming in 1799. It would remain in the Wright family for over a century.

 

Clark Brainard Wright, it’s last “wrightful” owner, would operate the farm from 1842 and into the 1920’s. It was under his guidance that the farm became well-known for it’s herd of shorthorn steers.

Most locals have heard of or attended the Middlefield Fair that began in 1855 and still runs over 3 days in August over 165 years later. It was here that this Durham cattle breed won top marks.

Clark Brainard Wright’s “Glendale Duke” was a magnificent specimen that would win top prizes at the Annual Cattle Show of the Highland Agricultural Society (later shortened to the Middlefield Fair). Middlefield was recognized by the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now Umass Amherst) as a leading breeding area:

The show of oxen and steers was the best I have ever seen at a county show, not for the number and perfection of training, but for the size and early maturity; almost every yoke especially of steers, was remarkable.

 

The cow fair was so legendary that a song was written about it. A lively two-step and male quartet was written by Philip Mack Smith in 1912. It was played at the fair and captures the original essence of the Middlefield Fair as the local folks in attendance must have felt.

 

The farm and falls were purchased by farmer and conservationist Richard Waite. Nicknamed “Waite’s Falls” during his time there, ,he ,allowed public swimming at the falls, until lewd lawbreakers ruined a good thing. Waite sold the falls and surrounding 60 acres shortly thereafter to the

What We Dug : ,Waterfalls are generally a hit with kids (and grown-ups) and Glendale does not disappoint. This is one of the highest, longest, and most powerful waterfalls in the state of Massachusetts, plunging more than 150 feet. Part of the Westfield River, it’s a rare naturally occurring Class III whitewater run. (For a bit of reference, there are a total of 5 classes in rafting).

At the top of the falls there are some wide, level spaces where you can get a good look at the water hurtling downhill. You can stand at the edge and imagine yourself on a raft with ,four foot ,w,aves shooting up ,,on all sides while the boat careens down the narrow passages.

A short trail leads to the bottom of the falls. The various stairs cut into the side of the trail provide additional tactile interest (i.e. lots of climbing) but please be cautious! There are steep areas that can make for tricky stepping.

It’s always nice to have a “final destination” when you’re out with kids. Having an endgame gives them a mental checkpoint and can be a source of encouragement when spirits start to flag. The bottom of the waterfall is a quick trip from the top but the payoff is spectacular. We spent some time taking it all in before trekking back up the way we came. We finished our afternoon with a few lively games of “Pooh Sticks.”

What We Could Do Without :

This certainly can be a busy destination. Given that there is only one trail up and down the falls it makes “social distancing” or simply enjoying the area on your own next to impossible. If you’re looking for time alone in the woods, this is not the place. Also, if you are bringing along a spirited toddler, be aware that the trail makes it’s way down the side of the cascade. Not so close that there’s fear of toppling in, but for us it certainly was somewhere we had to keep eyes on our kids at all times, not a place to let them run free to roam.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : ,Remnants of an 18th-century grist mill on the north side of the waterfall, Hemlock, Birch, Beech, Maple, Hornbeam, Witch Hazel, Shadbush, Mountain Laurel, Painted Trillium, Hobblebush, Warblers

Must Know Before You Go’s : ,No facilities. Seasonal hunting is allowed. A Trustees permit is required. Mountain biking is not allowed. Dogs must be kept on leash at all times.

When enjoying these properties during the Health Crisis, The Trustees asks that visitors follow social distancing guidelines for the health and safety of all, and to help keep properties open in these challenging times:

  • Limit visits to open Trustees properties in your respective town or neighborhood;
  • Stay at least six feet from other visitors, including stepping aside on the trail to let others pass;
  • Please keep dogs leashed and away from other visitors at all times;
  • If a parking area is full, please come back at a less busy time.

Directions : From Pittsfield: Follow Rt. 8 South approx. 5 mi. Turn left onto Rt. 143 East. Follow for 8.1 mi. Turn right onto River Rd. (becomes East River Rd.) and follow for 5.6 mi. Turn right onto Clark Wright Rd. immediately after bridge and proceed 0.4 mi. to entrance and parking (7 cars) on right. Clark Wright Road Middlefield, MA  01243

GPS 42.349, -72.969

Website : www.thetrustees.org/glendalefalls

Resources :

THE MIDDLEFIELD FAIR: A Case Study of the Agricultural Fair in New England (Nineteenth Century)

https://marthamoments.blogspot.com/2015/12/25th-anniversary-countdown-to-christmas_18.html

Scroll through for more pictures of our Glendale Falls adventure!

Pooled Echoes of the Past  – Duncan Brook Reservoir

Pooled Echoes of the Past – Duncan Brook Reservoir

 

 

Where We Went : Duncan Brook, Dalton MA

 

When We Went : 1st Week of April

 

Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10) : 2.5 Boots (based on lack of trails)

 

Trail Length : No Marked Trails

 

How Long it Took Us : 2 Hours

 

Overview : In 1957, the town of Dalton proposed a public swimming pool on Duncan Brook Reservoir, a 7.6 acre tract of land owned by J. Edgar Bardin, containing a brook and 75-foot dam previously built to provide water to Flintstone Farm.

 

 

Two years and $17,000 later, the project spearheaded by Townsman John Broderick was complete. The new public pool opened for swimmer’s on June 27, 1959. The town of Dalton’s first outdoor swimming area since Weston Beach was abandoned in the 1930’s, Duncan Brook would become a very popular local spot.

 

 

During the summer months, supervised swimming was available after 1pm on weekdays and 10am on Sunday, closing down at 8pm. Boasting a sandy shore, a slide, diving board and ,,bathhouse facilities, it was the perfect spot to cool off, and you’d cool off in a hurry! Notoriously chilly water led to the installation of pipes that siphoned the cold water from the bottom of the pond, diverted it over the spillway, and left the sun-warmed surface water much more suitable for swimming.

 

Popularity would lead the Hinsdale-Dalton Bus Line to run a daily bus special to Duncan Brook Beach. For 10 cents you could catch the 1 o’clock bus at the corner of Park Ave & High Street, swim all day long and hitch the 4 o’clock bus back, right in time for dinner.

 

,

 

 

The beach at Duncan Brook played host to numerous swimming competitions, fishing derbies, picnics, and even the occasional doll show. (These were a big thing in Dalton, look it up.)

 

 

At it’s peak, Duncan Brook attracted 200-250 people daily for swimming and other activities. At the annual picnic at the close of the 1962 season, there were 300 attendees!

 

Then in 1967, Dalton unveiled the newest swimming locale at the American Legion and Duncan Brook took a back seat. Although still open to swim at your own risk, Duncan Brook became primarily used for fishing derbies and as a day camp for the Camp Fire Girls of Na-Wak-Wa. In 1968, Duncan Brook would cease to be the swimming hot spot it had once been.

 

 

 

Threatened to be sold at public auction in the 1980’s, it was only because of passionate townspeople that it was spared from the auction block. But it would fall into further disuse and disrepair. J. Edgar Bardin offered to buy back the property while still allowing for public use, but that never came to pass.

 

 

In 1983, a group of Boy Scouts and their leaders passed a frigid couple of nights at Duncan Brook. The camping trip was planned as a way to hone their Winter survival skills and boy, were they tested. Temperatures dropped to 6-below zero overnight! Despite the cold, the Scouts kept themselves busy and their spirits high.

 

Maybe it was this triumph of character that prompted the town’s subsequent sale of the property to the Boy Scouts in 1984 for the price of $1.

 

Currently, the property is still owned by the Boy Scouts, but has not been in regular use or maintained in many years. Located off of Route 9, near the former Flintstone Farm, the old swimming pond now resembles a marsh after heavy silt deposits flooded the area from a nearby gravel operation. The bathhouse still stands but bares the damage of frequent vandalisms. There are no trails, but the wooded area surrounding Duncan Brook is easily accessible and is a straightforward tract to tramp around in.

 

 

What We Dug : Garter snakes were out in force, enjoying the mild temperatures and the warmth of the sun. Not your typical harbinger of spring, Garter snakes emerge from hibernation in order to mate in March or April.

 

A common sight in New England, it is easily recognizable by its pattern of yellow stripes against black or brown scales. The pattern can sometimes vary, but it usually consists of a narrow stripe down the middle of the back and a broad stripe on each side.

 

Garter snakes can be found in many different habitats, but never far away from some form of water, and the marshy slopes at Duncan Brook make for ideal conditions.

 

Did you know that garter snakes are ovoviviparous? That means they give birth to live young! Most snakes are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs in a nest. 

 

 

Since being homebound during Covid-19, we have been seizing any opportunity to turn our day-to-day into teachable moments. When we venture outdoors we’re able to capitalize on the world that surrounds us. Duncan Brook offered countless possibilities for us to learn more about nature and wildlife. Snakes, polypores, animal scat; we even stumbled upon a deer’s skull! Or maybe it’s a sheep? We spent some time poking at it with a stick, trying to

 

What We Could Do Without : ,Another local property with so much untapped potential. It’s always bittersweet to walk through a place and picture what once was and imagine what could be. Oh to live a day in the ’60s, hopping the bus to the swimming hole on a sweltering summer afternoon…

 

My mental pendulum swings between the past and the present.

 

What’s next? Thoughts drift to the future and how to preserve the area for the environment, the wildlife, and the community… An outdoor classroom to educate the next generation of nature stewards and caretakers? A woodland haven for open-air hiking, camping, and exploration? Restore it to the golden days of beachside yore? The only thing I know, is that it’s the reminiscing that is the easy part – it’s in the “What’s next?,” that lies the real trouble.

 

 

 

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For : Garter Snake, Abandoned Bathhouse, Remnants of a Diving Board, Pond, and Dam, Striped Maple, Ash, Cherry, Poplar, White Pine, Polypore Fungi, Deer, Rabbit

 

Must Know Before You Go’s : There are no marked trails. This property is owned by the Boy Scouts of America and is not maintained. Please use at your own risk. No facilities. No maintained trails. No hunting.

 

Directions : From Dalton center, travel North on Route 9 (North Street). Turn left onto Chalet Road (dirt road also called Duncan Brook Road). If you pass Holiday Brook Farm you have gone too far and missed the turn. Drive to the end of Chalet Road. You can park your car at the pull off area on your right and walk towards the green shelter.

 

Website : None

 

Resources : https://www.hitchcockcenter.org/earth-matters/garter-snakes-emerge-for-their-grand-coming-out-party-in-march-and-april/

 

https://kids.kiddle.co/Garter_snake

 

https://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/thasir.htm

 

http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Thamnophis_sirtalis/

 

 

 

 

Scroll through for more pictures of our Duncan Brook adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Open-Air Spaces for Berkshire Families

With every aspect of our lives suddenly disrupted, nature and outdoor activities provide essential stability, stress-relief and distraction to the current crisis. Lucky for us, the Berkshires is bursting with open-air spaces.

With Spring on the horizon and increasing uncertainties ahead, there is no better time to get outside and let nature work it’s magic.

 

Here are 20 family-friendly hikes we’ve reviewed to jumpstart your adventures.


     

    1. Balance Rock State Park
    2. Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary
    3. Wahconah Falls State Park
    4. Old Mill Trail
    5. Steven’s Glen
    6. Getty Memorial Conservation Area
    7. Mountain Meadow
    8. Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
    9. Natural Bridge State Park
    10. Greylock Glen Meadow
    11. Historic Becket Quarry
    12. Ashuwillticook Rail Trail
    13. Dorothy Frances Rice Wildlife Sanctuary
    14. Crane’s Pond
    15. Field Farm
    16. Longcope Park
    17. Road’s End Wildlife Sanctuary
    18. Thomas & Palmer Brook
    19. Bullard Woods
    20. Constitution Hill

    Handmade Nature Boards & Inserts available in our Etsy Shop!

    COVID-19 Hiking Best Practices

    • Check access before you go, many areas are closed during this time.
    • If you or anyone in your group is feeling sick, STAY HOME.
    • If parking areas are crowded, choose a different space to explore.
    • Give a wide berth to other hikers and allow for at least 6-feet for passing.
    • Practice Carry-In/Carry-Out & Leave No Trace rules. Trash receptacles should not be used.
    • Bathroom and office facilities will be closed to the public.
    Concerto For A Crisis

    Concerto For A Crisis

     

    I’ve been struggling with what to write these days. We’re hiking more than ever to fill the empty time, yet when I sit down to write a review, the words feel forced. And not because my heart’s not in it, no – my heart has never before been more tied or in tune with nature and it’s source power – but because the traditional review starts to sound hollow and empty, like something left unsaid.

     

    So I do what I always do when my own words fail me. I go searching for someone else’s words to fill the void, someone who made sense of my heart’s feelings, someone who jotted down its similar tune and left them someplace for me to find.

     

    I wanted to share some of those words with you today. Maybe you’ll hear the matching melody to your own heart’s song and they’ll help fill a void or feed some part of your soul.

     


     

     

    Walter Prichard Eaton lived, breathed and wrote Berkshire County. A resident of Sheffield, Eaton was the first journalist to pen the “Our Berkshires” column for the Berkshire Eagle. A prolific author, he published a collection of essays in 1920 under the title, “In Berkshire Fields.”

     

    Uncertain times were a familiar subject for Eaton. The essay, “From a Berkshire Cabin,” was written in August of 1918, and America was deeply embroiled in the hostilities o,f World War I.

     

    We may not be in armed combat, but there’s a striking comparison to these current times. ,Although we are living through a different type of global crisis than a World War, the parallels of our own inner and outer turmoil seem to rise to the surface like algae on a stagnant pond. A global spectre, a seemingly undefeatable enemy, and unprecedented carnage. The front lines look different – medical scrubs clothe these soldiers, not fatigues. They wear masks meant to shield microscopic bacteria instead of mustard gas, hoping the heavy antiseptic artillery thrown from the trenches is a efficacious defense.

     

    From his, “…peaceful…quietly lonely and lovely spot where my cabin stands…” Eaton conducts a dichotomous symphony. Lilting tones trill out the tranquil beauty of his surroundings. Then the pitch sharply descends into minor key, chanting the intrinsic dissociation and discord that World War I ushered in:

     

    I am aware with a pang of almost intolerable sorrow of personal variety. My sin is that I have not worked for others, only for myself. We have struck the pitch of course, in a moment of national stress, when “crowd psychology” plays a large part; there is no sense of denying that. Can we hold the pitch when the tension is relaxed? Can we continue to realize that no individual happiness, no individual attainment of the beautiful, not national prosperity even, is worth much in the sight of the ‘All Beautiful’ unless it is part of a larger world happiness and beauty?

     

    Eaton wondered why we were capable of sending a massive army to fight overseas under the banner of universal humanity, but couldn’t, as a nation, mobilize for a similar ideal on the home front?

     

    The forest seems to whisper hope. But it is not going to be easy. Human selfishness, alas! in the form of greed has not always been scotched, even under the stress of war. Its tremendous grip on the world’s affairs in times past, however, as we now see only too plainly, has been in no small measure due to the lazy selfishness of myriads of good people, who would not sacrifice their own comfort, their own delightful leisure in their ivory towers of beauty, to fight for control of the civic machinery, to make what they knew in their hearts to be the right prevail. Those times must pass.

    We must descend from our mountain cabins, our towers of ivory; we must come out of our gardens, forgetting our beautiful enjoyments, or our precarious jobs which carry no attendant enjoyments, and remembering only the ideal of beauty in our hearts, the ideal of beauty which means, too, the ideal of justice and mercy and peace and happiness for each and all, demand of what rulers we shall find that they give over to us the machinery which controls our destinies, and the destinies of all our fellows.

    The forest seems drowsing in its loveliness, and I am loath to leave it, to descend to the valley road, to dinner – to the Sunday papers. It is hard to come down from a mountain cabin, from an ivory tower, to give up a solitary possession or resign a comfortable privilege!

     


     

     

    With Earth Day on the horizon, I happened upon a different “green” holiday, seemingly forgotten.

     

    On June 1st-3rd of ,1990, the United Nations introduced the Environmental Sabbath Program.

     

    An “International Earth Rest Day,” this interfaith celebration promoted a three-day period of renewal and reflection every June for Mother Earth.

     

    The brainchild of 

     

    A Prayer of Sorrow

     

    We have forgotten who we are
    We have alienated ourselves from the unfolding of the cosmos
    We have become estranged from the movements of the earth
    We have turned our backs on the cycles of life.

     

    We have forgotten who we are.

     

    We have sought only our own security
    We have exploited simply for our own ends
    We have distorted our knowledge
    We have abused our power.

     

    We have forgotten who we are.

     

    Now the land is barren
    And the waters are poisoned
    And the air is polluted.

     

    We have forgotten who we are.

     

    Now the forests are dying
    And the creatures are disappearing
    And the humans are despairing.

     

    We have forgotten who we are.

     

    We ask forgiveness
    We ask for the gift of remembering
    We ask for the strength to change.

     


     

     

    The third and final verse to this literary concerto came as a result of my new job as 1st grade teacher. Wholly unqualified for this position I knew there’d be challenging days ahead, but I never expected to spend a Tuesday morning tearfully blubbering my way through a reading of  “The Giving Tree.”

     

    Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.

     

    One reason why Shel Silverstein’s artfully simplistic story has such universal appeal, is that for everyone, it can be understood differently. There’s no set way to decipher it, no singular moral to glean.

     

    One might take this story as the foolish epitome of human selfishness, while another may see this as the sorrowful representation of the lengths someone will go for the things they love.

     

    At its core, it’s a profoundly beautiful story about unconditional love and sacrifice, succinctly juxtaposing our sometimes selfish and frivolous human values against the humble goodness of pure, selfless love and limitless kindness. It was the story I didn’t know I needed to hear.

     

    It’s been a joy to see people’s outdoor adventures fill up social media, seeing a wave of folks and families turn to nature for something to do, someplace to be. It reaffirms that message that nature is not only the first but simultaneously the final frontier. It began and it is all that remains. We remember it when all else is stripped away from us. Like that little boy on the stump, now an old man.

     


     

    During this time of great suffering on Earth we often feel torn between healing ourselves and attempting to cure the social and economic ills that plague our culture. Like Eaton’s cabin, it is easier to construct our little ivory towers of safety and beauty, to live on our own tiny islands and shut out the ugliness. But in doing so we miss the forest for the trees.

    One thing I know for certain – if we continue to view ourselves as separate from the rest of the world and not as a part of this living Earth, we’ll never understand that our individual participation extends to the whole, that ,justice and mercy and peace and happiness is intrinsically universal.

    Remember to come down from your “mountain cabin” once in a while, remember who we are, and remember what was there for you. Remember that the Earth itself is a healer, full of comfort in wild places, remember to seek songs that make your heart sing, and remember that which we would like to see, we must help bring into being.

    Let us try and remember when all else returns.

     

    The End.