Lost in the Woods
By Lilah Brackett
As I enter Mother Nature's winter wonderland,
I hear laughing,
the mischievous roots trying to trip one of us
Great oak trees dance
sway in the wind.
We march on.
Young winds greet us quickly
Then rush by like they have somewhere else to be
We approach the outdoor classroom
and the old trees wind up an argument
Like we shouldn’t be there,
we move on anyway.
Advancing to the creek we listen to the concert of nature;
the water rushing by,
softest snow crunching under our feet.
We walk on smelling the crisp winter air
wanting it all
despite our stinging noses.
We stroll on
I feel the soft smooth birch bark ready to take flight.
We hop from century old rock
to century old rock
resting in their snowy beds.
Feel the soft spongy moss.
imagine a small animal sleeping there.
Fresh newborn pine
wafts through the air
as we get closer to Mill Pond.
We get there
Tall, proud, bare trees stand in the ice
As if they rule the pond.
Making our way back,
the roots’ best friend,
tries to slip one of us.
We get closer to society,
I hear the hum of the cars,
then we step back to our normal lives
as if the magic of the woods washed off of us.
If only we got lost in the woods...
Lilah Brackett wrote this delightful poem as a fourth-grader at Mill Pond School, after her class had taken a winter walk on the trails behind the school, in the Headwaters Conservation Area (HCA). If you’re familiar with the trails in the HCA, you might realize that the poem describes the route taken by the class. The map below shows that route. For a winter walk, start behind Mill Pond School and follow Lilah’s route to experience the magic of the winter woods that inspired her poem, or enjoy the same walk in any of the four seasons.
Photo submitted: Joan Sanders
Location: Enter the trail behind Mill Pond School (6 Olde Hickory Path, off West Main Street, Westborough), near the fenced-in retention basin.
Parking: Mill Pond School parking lot (visitors’ section) when school is not in session.
Length: About 0.7 mile from school to Osprey Point; round trip about 1.5 miles.
Terrain: Mostly flat, with mild downhill/uphill when leaving/approaching the school. Some rocks in the trail in places, and a short boardwalk over a wetland area.
Trail map (to print or download): Headwaters Conservation Area Trail Map
Description of this trail walk: Enter the Platform Trail behind Mill Pond School) near the fenced-in retention basin. Note the outdoor classroom platform on your right as you walk through a white pine woodland. Take a left on the Oak Ridge Trail and head downhill to an area with a log bridge over a stream (the Assabet River). Do not cross the bridge, but instead go right on the Assabet Trail (part of the Charm Bracelet trail) and follow it about 0.5 mile to Osprey Point, passing through a small wetland on a boardwalk along the way. Enjoy views of Mill Pond. Reverse this route to return to the school and your car.
Photos submitted: Garry Kessler
- The Headwaters Conservation Area (HCA) contains 100 acres of open space, most of which was purchased by the Town in 1998. It became the Town’s second conservation area in 2003 and protects 35 percent of the Town’s water supply, important wildlife habitats, and open space for passive recreation.
- The Charm Bracelet trail system, which includes the Assabet Trail in the HCA, is a 28-mile loop trail connecting most of the major open space areas within Westborough. The Charm Bracelet is augmented by many local side trails such as those in the HCA.
- At its headwaters in the HCA, the Assabet River is typically a small stream, but at least once in the past, stormwaters swelled the stream so much that it washed away the telephone-pole log bridge (now rebuilt) across the stream.
- As you walk the boardwalk through a small wetland, look for wetland wildflowers and other plants, especially in spring.
- After walking on the boardwalk (as you head toward Osprey Point), look for occasional giant boulders, known as glacial erratics. They were carried here from other locations by the glaciers that covered the area more than 10,000 years ago. The boulders were left behind when the glaciers melted.
- On the way to Osprey Point, you’ll walk through a grove of witch hazel trees that form a tunnel-like canopy. In mid- to late October, look for the spidery, wispy yellow flowers on these trees – the last flowers of autumn in Westborough’s woods. Also look for mushrooms all along the trail, especially September-November.
- As you near Osprey Point, notice tall oak trees.
- At Osprey Point, look out over the water for the distant osprey nest on a platform (installed to replace the disintegrating tree that used to hold the osprey nest). Watch for the pair of osprey that usually inhabit the area from early April to September.
- Mill Pond, also known as SuAsCo and as Stump Pond,was created as a state flood control reservoir in 1968. It covers much of the area of Assabet Swamp, the headwaters of the Assabet River.
Click the links below to read previous editions of WCLT’s
“Try A Trail Close to Home”
Try a Trail: John Malley Trail
Try a Trail: Osprey Point
Try a Trail: Gilmore Pond
Try a Trail: Sandra Pond
To download all the Charm Bracelet Trail Maps click here.
WCLT members and friends:Tell us about your own favorite trail in town! E-mail us about it (300 words or less) at: email@example.com.