March 12, 2024

One of the many pods/lakes here in the low country


Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories.

-Steven Wright


We have another fine late winter day to continue our trek on the Bay Circuit Trail.  Phyllis and I are eager to finish the thing and the weather is cooperating.  Waldo, well, he’ll walk just about anywhere, anytime, for any reason, as long as it’s not too hot and his toes don’t freeze.  So, here we go.

This leg is billed as being 9.2 miles long, without gaps, and we decide to start an hour later, at 9:00 instead of 8:00.  The temperature is hovering around freezing when we start, but is scheduled to rise into the high 30s later on.  The sky is overcast, with a possibility of light flurries, and the wind is almost nonexistent.  We’re dressed in layers, prepared to shed when it gets warm enough that we start to sweat.

We left off in Hanson and aim for Pembroke, about 3.9 street miles away.  But, of course, we aren’t going all the way by street, and those that we do go on are not the shortest distance between two points.  The Bay Circuit Trail was not designed to get somewhere fast, but to link together already existing paths that wander through the green spaces surrounding Boston.  Our course is much more tortuous and serpentine.  As we start, we head more or less north, along convenient rural roads and streets, instead of east.

Traffic isn’t too bad, but I do have to keep Waldo on a short leash – there are no sidewalks here.  He cooperates without complaint and Phyllis and I are able to leave him to his tethered pursuit of doggy stuff under only peripheral observation.  Because it stimulated some interesting conversation, Phyllis and I turn back to the 36 Questions to Fall in Love.  We are good friends and not intimate partners, but the questions are interesting just the same.  As we walk along, we came to number 11, “Take 4 minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.”  We lost it in laughter.  Phyllis is 76 and I’m 75, so there’s been a hell of a lot of water go under the bridge in that time.  I’m pretty sure Waldo’s answer would be considerably shorter.  But maybe not.  Oh, the smells he has sniffed and the sticks he has herded!  Anyway, we decide not to limit it to 4 minutes and Phyllis goes first.

We didn’t keep track of how long she talked and she elided over a number of events that could be left for another time without leaving gaping holes in the narrative.  It was very much more than 4 minutes.  I just let her tell her story as she saw fit and at the pace she was comfortable.  She told me of her major struggles in life and how she grew and developed because of them.  She took me on a Mach 4 trip down memory lane from her first memories until the time we met, some 4 years ago, or so.  Many of the details I’ve heard before from our previous discussions, but I’ve not heard them linked in chronological order.  I was amazed at how many of the troubles she experienced growing up (something we’re still doing) were the same as the ones I stumbled through.

We’re into the woods, on an undeveloped trail, when it’s my turn.  I start with my earliest memories, then kick in the afterburner to fly through my recollections from then until now.  I skip over a lot of what I think is worth reporting, we only have about 6 hours for this walk, after all, but include what I think are the essentials to get the gist.  I have no idea how long I went on, but there were several times when we found ourselves off-trail because we weren’t paying attention.  It’s not that we were lost, we don’t get lost.  We just wander a bit.  In the end, our 9.2 mile jaunt took us down a 10 or 11 mile route with some backtracking as we wandered down a seventy-something year memory lane.

Along the way, we passed lakes and bogs, canals and wooded areas.  The off-street trails had patches of snow compacted over beds of dead leaves, but nothing causing our septuagenarian footing to be unsteady.  There was an old mill, the Nathaniel Thomas Mill, next to a creek (the waterwheel had been removed) that operated from 1695 until 1975.  That’s one thing about walking in New England that I enjoy – bumping into history in unexpected places.  Waldo was consumed by his own interests, as we trod our way sort of eastward, and it was obvious that he was as consumed by his experience as Phyllis and I were by ours.

About six hours after we started, we arrived at the car we left behind in Pembroke.  Here, the BCT tracks right and left, tracing out a large loop to the trailhead in Kingston.  We’ve already decided to walk on both sides of the loop.  Our next trek is to the right, the southern arc, 13.2 miles to the sea.  After that, we’ll come back to Pembroke and do the northern part of the trail for 13.4 miles and, after something like three and a half years, we’re done.

And then it’s on to the next trail, wherever we decide that to be.


The Nathaniel Thomas Mill, 1695 – 1975.

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