Broad Meadow Brook

In the continuing effort to visit all Mass Audubon properties, I tackled Broad Meadow Brook out in Worcester today.

I have seriously mixed feelings about this property. It is not terribly large, but it has a huge visitor center and is clearly well funded (a good thing). The trails are extremely well marked as a result – so much so that it’s really not necessary to pick up a map. Which is a good thing, because it looks as if it was drawn by a child. The property begins with a wide, universally accessible trail (a very good thing), which has been lined with pages from a children’s story (ugh – I thought the damned bear would never get her cup of tea). It winds down the hill for quite a while, and I began to think I’d made a large mistake and started to leave. The fact that I’d driven 50 minutes to get there stopped me. At the bottom I came across a very nice boardwalk, which always wins points with me (though it’s hard for boardwalks around here to measure up to the ones we saw in Costa Rica). After that, things improved somewhat. The trail winds around the eponymous brook, and it really is quite lovely in spots. Unfortunately this entire property is within a residential area, and you will come around corners several different times and find yourself facing someone hanging clothes in her backyard – not quite the solitude I look for during my rambles. I’m happy the property exists, though, else it’s clear the houses would have marched on up the hill and the brook would be underground now.

The single most frustrating part of the day wasn’t the property’s fault, but mine. What brings me to specifically place a bottle of Cutter in my bag, and then deliberately decide before setting out on the walk that I don’t need to apply it? The beasts were beyond all reason. One world-weary mosquito drowned himself in my eye and I blinked red with what I can only hope was my own blood.

So. Maybe if there’s been a frost and I’m in Worcester for some unrelated reason, I’ll return. But I don’t see those two forces joining. My problem is I expect every property to be Ipswich River, and that’s just not going to be the case.

This story has a happy ending, though. Yen has been sick, so my rambling partner was abed all weekend. After I returned home, he announced he felt well enough to venture out for “light activity,” and so we decided to visit Arlington Great Meadows, which are very nearly literally right in our backyard. We roamed for an hour on winding trails, across boardwalks, and into dead ends that would lead a distracted person straight into the slough. It’s full of birds, frogs, a tiny apiary, and little spiders capable of skating across the surface of the bog in search of food. And birds. So many birds. All just a fifteen minute walk from home.