October 14, 2020

Nice shady, tree-lined road.


My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Our next stop is just west of Taunton, 12.5 miles from North Attleborough.  Most of Taunton’s settlers were originally from Taunton in Somerset, England, when the town was incorporated in 1639.  A long history of iron industry in the area started in 1656 with the Taunton Iron Works and was known in the nineteenth century as “Silver City” for its many silversmithing operations.  As well as bar iron, the iron industry also produced goods like stoves, tacks and machinery.  In 1846 there was even a steam locomotive plant as well as textile mills, brick-making and shipbuilding.  During WWII, Taunton housed a prisoner of war camp containing German and Italian soldiers.  The National Weather Service now operates a regional weather forecast office in Taunton.  The City is trying to attract semiconductor, electronics and biotechnology firms.  In 2012, the City opened the Global War on Terrorism War Memorial.  The population of Taunton is 57,464.

The days are starting to cool down a little since high summer.  The temps can still get up to the low eighties around 4 o’clock, but the mornings are in the cool low sixties if we start early enough.  Today, we started just after seven and the temperature was a friendly 64 degrees.  We’re starting to have to drive farther before we can start walking; it took about 45 minutes this morning.  As we get closer to the Cape, it’ll take even longer, especially after we cross the Cape Cod Canal, since there are no freeways on Cape Cod.  We start from a Dunkin’ Donuts’ parking lot in North Attleborough and we’ll end up in a Dunkin’ Donuts in Taunton.

The streets we chose to follow are not terribly busy and some even have sidewalks.  Waldo saunters along, doing his Waldo thing, at the forward end of the leash.  Christine’s natural pace is faster than mine, so I’m often left a little behind.  This creates a leash-snarl of sorts as Waldo, eight meters in front of me, seems to have a talent for positioning himself so that Christine is constrained by his tether.  Maybe it’s part of his herding instincts?  He does it without looking behind him to see where we are, so he’s doing it by some none-visual cue.  Christine tolerates it well and often ducks under the line, to just have to do it again in 10 minutes.

The time and distance flows by quickly as Christine and I become engaged in discussions about personalities, morality in interpersonal relationships, effectiveness of certain types of behavior and the pursuit of happiness, with some Buddhism added in here and there.  This can be quite a challenge at times as Christine is often a few feet in front of me and traffic noise can be loud, but we manage.  When we finally get to our target Dunkin’, I’m spent, and pleasantly exhausted.  It’s strange, but these 12.5-mile treks seem less of an ordeal than my daily six-mile walks with Waldo.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love those hikes on the Marlborough Rail-Trail with Waldo, an occasional neighbor and Mommy Nature, but I’m glad when they’re over.  Today, I feel more tired, but it also seems like I’ve had a real good time.  The newness of the path helps, but the fine company is a real asset.

A few days pass and we continue with a 10 mile walk from the western side of Taunton to a beach on Pico Lake in Massasoit State Park, Middleboro.  Middleboro was settled by Europeans in 1661 and they called the town Nemasket, from a Native American settlement along the Nemasket River.  Nemasket means “place of fish,” as there are large numbers of herring that migrate up the river each spring.  The town name was changed to Middlebury and then it was incorporated as Middleborough in1669.  Both names were derived from a town in the Nethererlands, named Middleburg.  Alden Shoes are manufactured in Middleboro, one of the last remaining shoe manufacturers in America.  It is the corporate headquarters of Ocean Spray cranberries.  In 2012, a town ordinance was passed, banning the public use of profanity with a fine of $20.  However, this was deemed to be unconstitutional and its enforcement was blocked.  I wish I knew that when we were there, I would have been sorely tempted to leave a blue streak in the air.  Today, Middleboro’s population is 25,121.

When we drop off the end-of-trek car at the lake, the temperature is in the mid fifties and there is a billowy mist hanging over Pico Lake.  It’s just after 7 AM and there are a few people already putting small boats out onto the water.  One small boat, carrying just one man and fishing rods, is close to shore and can be seen through the fog.  The boat and fisherman seem to be hanging in a cloud, slowly drifting through space and time, perhaps seeking serenity.

We leave the Dunkin’ in Taunton and the walk is much like the last leg until we get close to the lake.  We pass a sign that boasts, “King Field,” a small airport with two hangars and grass runways.  We also pass a sign that says, “No Herring Removal.”  They must be protected to some degree.  It really feels like we are getting close to the ocean, although we’re still a good 16 miles from the sea at Wareham.  We’re only 20 miles from Buzzard’s Bay and the Cape Cod Canal.  It won’t be long now.

Next week, Cape Cod!


“Come on! Catch up!” says Waldo.

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