August 25, 2020


We’re enjoying the trek despite the heat.


It’s summer and time for wandering…

-Kellie Elmore


Brookfield is an old town first settled in 1660 and incorporated in 1718 as part of the Quaboag Plantation.  Although he never slept in Brookfield, George Washington did water his horse in Brookfield as he traveled through five of the New England states.  The party would have spent the night there, but the innkeeper had a headache and, when awakened, she thought George was a college president and sent him on to the neighboring town of Spencer.  So, Spencer gets to be one of the George-Washington-slept-here spots and not Brookfield.  In West Brookfield, there is a restaurant, The Salem Cross Inn, built in the eighteenth century, where you can still get a good meal in the twenty-first century.  Brookfield’s population is 37,920.

Our destination today is The Publick House in Sturbridge, about 8.2 miles away.  Settled in 1729, the population of Sturbridge today is 9,640.  The town was named after Stourbridge, England.  Old Sturbridge Village, a living museum that recreates rural New England life during the 1790’s through the 1830s, is a popular tourist stop.  The area used to mine lead, iron and graphite and was one of New England’s first mining operations.  Mining ceased in 1910.

Our starting point is the farm of Christine’s large-animal vet, Dr. Ledoux, who has graciously let us park a car on his land while we hike.  It’s 6 AM and the temperature is in the high sixties, quite pleasant.  Dr. Ledoux comes out and greets us as we start.  He’s off to pick some corn.  Life on a farm starts as early as that of so-let’s-walk-the-length-of-Massachusetts trekkers.  We bid him good morning and start out down the back roads that wind through Brookfield.

One of the really nice things about starting out shortly after dawn, in addition to the cooler temperatures, is that shadows are long.  Even when the sun is up and the temperature starts to rise, there is plenty of shade from the trees that line the road.  The traffic is light this time of day, so we don’t have to deal with too many cars on the road either.  Waldo is really good about walking on the far edge of the road or, when he can, on the surrounding sidewalks or grass.  Unless the traffic is really heavy, I give him his head at the end of the leash and let him explore the world we pass by.

Every two to three miles, sometimes more frequently when it gets hot, we stop at a convenient rock wall, sit and water the dog.  Even when it’s hot, Waldo seems not to want water as much as to just lie down in the shade and rest.  When this happens, we stop and take a break too, continuing only when Waldo gets up without encouragement.  This does prolong the walk somewhat, but it also gives old creaking bones and aching muscles an excuse to chill for a bit too.

The countryside here is a combination of patches of forest, rural homesteads and farmland.  The farms are around a hundred acres or so and consist mostly of grazing pastures, barns, farm houses and occasional silos.  We don’t see very many animals, but cows and horses must be there somewhere or why else would all that pastureland be there?  Maybe they’re hiding from the heat.  There are also small lakes here and there and some of them have boathouses, piers and yachts.  They aren’t the huge yachts like you see on the ocean, but they’re a lot more than a fishing dingy.  The people we pass tell us that they do fish in these lakes, but it’s all catch and release so they don’t need to be stocked.  I know from flying over this area in a small plane at low altitude that the land here is like a slab of Swiss cheese, only instead of holes, there are small lakes everywhere.  I’m thinking it’s probably a water management strategy.

About four hours after we start, we come to Sturbridge.  The streets become busy, broad, sunny and, by this time, hot.  Finally, we come to the Publick House parking lot, our destination.  Once there, we rest in the shade and let Waldo cool off for a bit before we get into the hot car to go home.  The place seems open, and we could get lunch, but all I want is to go home, cool off in the AC and take a nap.

Our next stop will be Dudley, Massachusetts, in three days.


Nothing like a strategically placed pile of rocks to rest a bit.

Leave a Reply