April 30, 2024

Building construction at the beginning of the rail trail.


A path is a prior interpretation of the best way to transit a landscape.

-Rebecca Solnit


March’s weather ranged from parka temperatures, with frequent rain and occasional ice, to unzipped light jacket weather with sunshine that made me sweat.  Waldo’s need for water has gone from none to eager to get in the house so he can lap down a half-bowl of the stuff.  Soon, I’m going to have to start carrying his water bottles in my pack again.

Buds are now out on the tips of tree branches.  Low-lying plants, like garlic mustard and bitter dock, wear full leaves, although they are still small.  There is a pale green tinge to the sides of the trail from the nascent leaves bursting from buds on the branches of the bushes that grow there.  The Japanese knotweed is a jumble of dead hollow and broken stalks, but soon they will be sprouting from their roots once again. Spring, although not fully sprung, is emerging.  Even so, there is a forecast of “plowable amounts of snow” in a couple of days.

The construction along the Assebet River Rail Trail hasn’t changed much in the past few days.  Cement pillars now have cement floors on their top two stories, but there are no walls yet.  Windowed pressboard walls, one story high, zig-zag along the ground past the pillars, but they don’t yet have an external surface that will sustain New England’s weather.  I wonder how they will be finished, but I’m going to have to wait to find out.  Nothing is moving along very fast.

The piles of dirt at the soon-to-be public park, about a mile further down the path, are still being pushed around without any suggestion of what the final outcome will be like.  The piles move around, grow and diminish, and change their consistency.  Some are rocky hills bearing sticks and branches, while others are more like sand.  Huge dump trucks haul the stuff around and deposit it here and there.  There’s even a road roller (once known as a steam roller) that smooths down the path the trucks take.  Curious.

Several of my fellow dog-walkers have shown some interest in asking the town to put in a dog park on these grounds.  Seems like a perfect place for one.  The area is quite large, with lots of room for a dog park, along with whatever else they may be planning on putting in there. So, I decided to call the town hall.  I asked them, first, what they were planning on doing with the area.  The woman I talked to said that it was going to be a large open public space without any athletic fields of any kind.  My first reaction was, why did all the trees need to be cut down for that?  But I held my tongue and asked instead about the dog park.  She said there were no plans for one there, but to call back in a couple of months.  Apparently, they’re thinking about putting one in somewhere else.  She wouldn’t say where, just call back.

Today, as Waldo and I passed along the fence that encloses the piles of dirt, I noticed a man and a woman looking at the construction being done.  We decided that all the earth-moving was necessary because there used to be a landfill there and they have to process the ground to make it safe.  Maybe so.  I then suggested that it would be a good idea to put in a dog park.  The woman said that she was talking to the mayor the other day and there was a plan to put a dog park in somewhere in town, but she didn’t know where.  Apparently, the mayor promised a dog park when he ran for election.

“You have the mayor’s ear?”  I asked with some excitement.

“Well, yeah, I guess. Sort of,” she said.

”Well, tell him to put a dog park in here!” I said.

The woman promised to mention it the next time she talked to him.  I have no idea what the connection is she has with the mayor and I wasn’t interested enough to ask.  I just figured, whatever it was, there was an opportunity to offer a suggestion from a constituent.  It would be very convenient for Waldo and I to stop by here, after our walks, for a little off-leash free-time romp.  It would be pretty cheap to set up too.  What do you need other than a gate and some hurricane fencing?  I am considering starting a petition, but I’ll wait until I do call back, in a couple of months, to see what they have in mind.

Meanwhile, Waldo and I continue on our way.

Watching the snail-paced, but cosmic, changes along the rail trail.


Pushing dirt around at the soon to be public park.

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