A City Day

This is a trip-to-the-city day for me. No time for a walk at home, so I must do what I can in Boston.

Such a great day! I planned weeks ago to come here for a meeting and then head to Cambridge for some research. It’s my luck that the weather’s nice. So where to start walking?
South Station, of course, where the bus from home deposits me. My meeting’s on Tremont Street. Join the crowd crossing Atlantic Ave., and then keep going down Summer Street, which becomes Winter Street (really!). Bob and weave through the crowd. Suddenly there’s the Common and Tremont Street, after five or so minutes of almost-aerobic exercise. My meeting site is another three minutes down Tremont.

A short walk, but it’s sometimes subway material. If I were still limping from last February’s knee injury, I’d take the subway and be grateful. Not today, though.

Meeting’s over. The Common is in full sunshine, autumn leaves still looking pleasant: that’s my lunch stop. Then I break down and take the Red Line to Cambridge, only because I haven’t the time to walk the three miles. From the subway stop, my destination is five brisk minutes away. Everyone in Cambridge walks briskly, so there’s less need than in Boston to weave through the crowd.

Round trip, that’ll give me maybe twenty-five minutes of walking for the day. Nothing dramatic. I’m pleased, though. Spending those 25 minutes in a subway car on a day like this would no fun at all.

Horse Hill

Among the places to which I’ve returned again and again during this blog’s ten years is Horse Hill Nature Preserve, one of my favorite places in town.

dscf1098When I moved to this area thirty years ago, what is now the preserve was just a big undeveloped area with a sandpit in the middle. There was once talk of building a housing development in there. The development never materialized, and in 2002, the town purchased the property for conservation. As a community, we made a wise decision.

The area needed a lot of cleanup before it was ready for prime time, and we resorted to some creative maneuvers to get the job done. I remember going there with my son’s Scout troop on a hike. In the sandpit area was debris from the area’s days as an informal target range. Each Scout gleefully stuffed his pockets full of shell casings and carried them out. I can only imagine how many forgotten little brass pieces found their way into washing machines that weekend.


My favorite season at Horse Hill.

Now, Horse Hill is a year-round spot for walkers, runners, and off-road bicyclists. Horseback riding is allowed, too, for equestrians who don’t mind taking their chances sharing a trail with bikes. As for being a nature preserve, Horse Hill’s wetlands and trees provide habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Horse Hill is popular enough that the town just tripled the size of the parking area, yet it never seems crowded once I’m more than five minutes from my car. Plenty of trails branch off from the main loop, so hikers aren’t concentrated in one area.

If you go, download a map first, and then have fun.


Good snowshoeing here in winter.



Horse Hill Nature Preserve


I walk for fun, to explore, to more-or-less exercise. I also walk to keep my head on straight. I wouldn’t have gotten through today without a couple of miles outside.

I’m a political critter, you see. I’ve been a campaign staffer, an activist, a blogger from the State House, to name a few pastimes. Yesterday was election day after the nastiest campaign year I’ve ever experienced. This has been a backed-up-sewer of a season.

Nothing will flush it out except time on the trails.

All I had today was time for a couple of local miles. Manchester’s Piscataquog rail trail came through for me. There were enough leaves left on the trees to serve as a canopy. The overcast sky suited me; bright sunlight would have left me with a slashing headache.


Piscataquog trail, in another season.

Forty good minutes: enough time to escape agitation. Time to block out the noise, turn away from the news feeds, take lots of deep breaths, recall what’s important.

A man biked past me. I recognized him as the unofficial adopter of the trail, picking up bags of trash, neatly hanging fresh plastic bags every hundred yards or so. Seeing him was oddly consoling and reassuring. He has a simple, selfless volunteer’s dedication to an unsung job that consists of keeping a public area pretty.

Beat that, candidates.

Decompression is going to take awhile. Today’s walk was a good start.


Late afternoon in living color

dscf1528First week in November, and I’m still waiting for the first stiff windstorm that will strip the trees. The colors make a treat even out of a walk around a mall’s parking lot. The highway traffic down below me was stopped for some reason. At least the drivers had a view to enjoy as they waited.



And then a little later, I caught a moment just before sunset that only fall can bring me.


This is the kind of day I’ll remember in March when I’m tired of snow and ice.