RAVE: A few years ago, my neighbor Liz invited me to go on a walk and introduced me to what is now one of my favorite routes in my neighborhood.
You may already know about the waterfall and pond that live near Cragan Field. You may even be forming your own rant that I am about to blab about it.
Sorry. But jewels like this need to be shared.
We call the body of water “Duck Pond,” but I believe its official title is “Bleachery Pond.” The path winds along the pond, drops with the twenty-foot waterfall and meanders by the small stream towards Post Road.
If the winter is very cold, the falls actually freeze, creating a winter grotto wonderland – perfect for impromptu afternoon tea parties with the kids. During the summer, the intrepid can balance along the top of the waterfall and test their shoe’s slippage abilities.
The easiest way to get to pick up the trail is next to Shoreside Apartments. By the way, what is that place? It doesn’t seem to be a nursing home or assisted living facility per se though that does seem to be one of its functions. Anyway, what a wonderful and weird location!
So. Back to the nature hike. If you are facing the Shoreside Apartment’s main door, the trail is to the left, adjacent to the pond. You can also walk through Historical Cemetery #36 further along on Sixth Avenue and look for the Land Trust marker on the far side of the graves. Be warned — the path is steep here and often overgrown.
The truly intrepid can poke around Post Road at the Cedar Avenue intersection. This is where the path finally egresses, but you’ll want to wear long pants – not because of tics, although I am sure there are many, but because the brambles make the Prince’s assault on the castle where Sleeping Beauty lay look like a walk in the park.
The waterworks are a leftover from when New England was a thriving mill center. I heard that these sort of ponds got their name because nearby residents could predict the upcoming season’s popular colors for clothing by watching the dyes passing by the banks of the river. Which is the sort of devastating historical fact that I just love.
Today, the water is clear and the banks are chocoblock with life — brush, birds and, unfortunately, bugs.
The area is now managed by our town’s Land Trust. This is the organization responsible for protecting and/or conserving local natural, scenic, recreational, agricultural, historic, or cultural property and they do a fine job managing just over a dozen properties on what is essentially a very small budget (I doubt I could do as well running my own household).
We have so few spots like this left in town — most of our natural spaces are landscaped for recreational use which seems to translate as walking, running, ball playing, cycling, and fishing but not necessarily enjoying nature in its true wild essence. So hurrah for Bleachery — a once-tamed place wild again!
RANT: My rant this week is also about Bleachery Pond. It seems that some of those who know about this hidden treasure have mistaken it for our town’s next dump. On a recent stroll, I picked up a Hefty bag’s worth of trash — chip packets, plastic drink jugs, bits of Styrofoam, crushed cans, plastic bags. Some of the litter really took effort to deposit — old tires, what seemed to be the chassis of a car and — ironically — a crushed garbage can. I really don't get how people can just toss things on the ground without a second thought. Apparently their parents never made them pick up after themselves.
The good news is that Earth Day is just around the corner. Perhaps an intrepid group of scouts or simply civic-minded souls can splinter off from the usual coastal clean up to tidy the area. Who knows? We might even find Jimmy Hoffa!