October 20, 2020

Lake Rico at the edge of Massasoit State park.


We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch, — we are going back to whence we came.

-John F. Kennedy


From Rico Lake in the Massasoit State Park in Taunton, we hike through the park, through the town of Lakeville and end in Rochester at the Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School.  The Park is heavily wooded and hosts a large number tree species.  Up until now, I have appreciated the many different kinds of trees that have offered their shade to us as we walk along, but I never bothered to speciate them.  Once in the park, I began paying more attention to the arboreal splendor New England displays.  There is, of course, the usual red oak, white pine, red maple, and hemlock, but the park also has catalpa, black cheery, pitch pine, white oak, tamarack and birch.  Christine knows quite a bit about all this and readily educates me as I wonder at the different kinds of trees as we find them.  Bushes and weeds abound as well, and I’m also interested in learning about them.

There is a paved road that meanders most of the way through the park, ending in a plethora of hiking trails that continue on in a number of different directions.  Side roads leading to camping areas split off from the main road and we pass more than a few people as they hike, bicycle and walk their dogs.  Waldo walks along, doing his own version of a nature walk, not speciating what he encounters, I’m pretty sure, but certainly checking everything out. Tail wagging, nose sniffing, he trots along out front, happily scouting out our route.  At the end of the paved road, we pick a path that heads toward where we want to go and exit the park on a narrow back street that has very little traffic.

This part of Massachusetts has a large number of lakes, ponds and cranberry bogs and we purposely choose a route that skirts many and crosses a couple on dikes that run near mid-water.  The bigger lakes have small fishing boats and quite a few migrating Canadian geese.  We also find Japanese knotweed, staghorn sumac, winterberry holly, small-leafed lime, northern bayberry and Chinese arborvitae.  I downloaded an app that helps me figure out what kind of living thing we come across, all the way down to the species if I’m lucky, but there is so much life and so little time.  The walk is 13.3 miles long and would take us close to five hours to complete it if we walked without break.  If I stopped and wondered at every weed and insect we passed, we wouldn’t finish until the following day.  So, instead, I focus on a few bits of biology as we go along and defer much curiosity to investigate in the long run.

You might wonder why I have developed such an interest in naming what I see.  I haven’t been all that interested in labeling stuff in the past.  But I find that taking the time to identify parts of the natural world forces me to pay closer attention to and engage more fully with Mother Nature.  And that, I find very fulfilling.

We end up at the Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester.  From there, after two days of rest, we continue down back roads to Wareham, another 13.3 miles down the road, where we left a car at Don’s Custom Upholstery.  Wareham sits on the shore of Buzzard’s Bay and is home to many yachts and pleasure boats.  It was officially incorporated in 1739 and was named after a town of the same name in England.  Its early industry revolved around shipbuilding and related industries.  It also serves as a resort town.  Its population is 22,666 and is the birthplace of the actress Geena Davis.

As we get closer to Wareham, the ground gets more and more sandy and the road is absolutely flat.  No hills here.  The air smells of the sea — a familiar aroma to Christine and me as we’ve both spent significant parts of our lives living and sailing on sailboats on the ocean.

We’re pretty tired as we climb into the car to return to our starting point and we decide to wait for three days before we continue.  Even Waldo is spent.

Our next leg takes us across the Sagamore Bridge and we’ll finally be on Cape Cod!


Middle of Massasoit State Park.

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