May 24, 2022

A Good Place to Walk

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Last Spring, in an attempt to escape the business of the world and the discord regarding the Covid pandemic, I found myself exploring the Danforth Street Conservation property for the first time. I made my way slowly through the low bush blueberry and over the mounded earth left from perk tests. The uneven earth was a reminder of what could have been and what was preserved. The path followed narrowly up a little hill and was littered with ancient signs of glaciation. Connected to the end of the property is private conservation in which there is a perennial stream. With the sun coming down, I took a pause to sit myself down on a little bridge going over the stream. It was during the time of day I like most; it is often referred to as twilight. When the sun has just barely sunk below the horizon and the world is cast in sepia tones. Having grown up in a farming community, and had my share of animals, I know this is the time of day that livestock often seek shelter for the night. On the other hand, some wildlife find it a time of safety or a period of opportunity.

As I listened to the stream, and laid on the small wooden bridge, I began effectively meditating away all of the thoughts cluttering my brain. As I laid there with my eyes closed, I heard the rustling of leaves in the near distance. Afraid I had intruded upon someone’s space, I opened my eyes only to see a young doe and her friend looking for some browse. The doe, being only a few feet in front of me, locked eyes in recognition. If you have ever seen a deer in person they are much bigger than you would expect. Healthy and strong with an air of mischief. I vowed to myself not to move because I wanted to watch her for as long as possible. My refusal to move perplexed her and wanting to know whether I was friend or foe she began to paw at the ground to get me to do something. I did not budge. We shared this exchange for quite some time. Her continually urging me to give her some acknowledgment, and me just sitting like a state. I thought it might be selfish not to scare her, because a deer ought to have a healthy distrust of humans. After all, we are predators. However, I could not bring myself to scare her away, she was just too innocent and beautiful. I thought how lucky she and her friend were that it was not hunting season.

This experience, in a time when I felt burdened by the business of the world, made me realize how lucky we are in Rehoboth to have places to interact with nature. My father used to tell me stories when I was young about how there were no deer in the area when he was growing due to overhunting. Through the implementation of conservation and science based hunting regulation, we saw a reemergence of the White Tailed Deer population that many of us enjoy today.

They made a comeback.

I am a big proponent of hunting, hunters are some of the best conservation advocates and stewards of the environment. We want to enjoy nature, but we also seek to conquer, to build and expand. It just simply is human nature to do this. But it’s important to find balance.

One of my most favorite books was introduced to me during undergraduate school at Emmanuel College, the class was on Environmentalism. The book was titled “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold. Leopold was a very strong advocate of hunting, but he also introduced the concept of “Land Ethic”. His concept was that we are all interconnected, and that our dependence upon the land and what it has to offer is a form of mutualism. Immersion in nature helps us extend our ethics beyond ourselves.

That experience with the deer gave me more than money could buy, and in that moment I realized how fortunate we are to have this natural medicine in such a busy world. If you haven’t had the opportunity I urge folks to take a walk in some of our conservation property in Rehoboth, and take from a visit the gift of natural experience. My thanks to the many community members who make invaluable experiences like this possible. It was certainly a team effort to accomplish these victories.

I will be doing a New Year's Walk in Attleboro this year with Friends of Ten Mile and Bucklin Brook, but I urge you to explore some of our local conservation where you can front the essential facts of life.

Here is a short list of some of our property:

  • Rehoboth State Forest- (Parking is on Peck St near the corner of Francis St.)
  • Ephraim Hunt- Pond St. (Parking available)
  • Danforth St. (Parking Available)
  • Oak Hill Beagle Club (Parking Available)
  • River Run Conservation (Picnic Table/ Pastoral views)
  • Miller Bird Sanctuary- Lake St. Rehoboth
  • Savoie Conservation- Parking available 27-31 Water St.
  • Munroe Conservation- (Access is through an easement beginning at 63 Plain Street. The recreation land begins once you have walked beyond Horton. There is a small parking area at the beginning of the easement.)

There are many more properties being added to this list, through Community Preservation, and Rehoboth Land Trust efforts, and all those who work behind the scene.

Happy New Year! 2022
Laura Dias Samsel

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