A wooded retreat
This is moving, cleaning, packing, and renting time for many of us Islanders. I am one of them, and I know how easy it is to get caught up in our own clutter and forget how lovely our Island is in June. On Sunday, after too much time in the basement, I needed to get out of the house, take a brisk walk, and clear my head.
The parking lot at the Lamberts Cove beach was full as I drove by, yet when I pulled off the Lamberts Cove Road into the Blackwater Pond Reservation Land Bank Property by Duarte's Pond, no one was there. Once the weather is nice, people can forget how much more than beaches the Vineyard offers.
An early June beach day is also an ideal time to explore the spring woods. Not only is it out of the wind. The temperature is just right for walking. At this time of year there are no pesky bugs and the walker is rewarded by wildflowers in abundance. If it's solitude you need, as I did, there is plenty of it. On a two-hour walk I saw many animals, but none of them were human.
The Blackwater Pond trail system offers a wide variety of walking options. The Land Bank and the Nature Conservancy have done a terrific job of connecting and maintaining trails in this area. Whatever your energy level, the wind, or the weather, there is a fine walk to be had. A large map by the parking area will help you outline a route, but some of the fun can be poking around and chancing a little confusion. The worst that can happen is a longer walk.
This day I needed a lengthy walk and set my sights on Wompesket, one of my favorite Land Bank properties. Wompesket is an 18-acre gem with a stream and a lovely open meadow. There is no parking close to this property and from the various places you can park: Duarte's Pond, Ripley's Field or Tisbury Meadow, the walk is long. This keeps it remote. I've been there at least a dozen times and I've never met another walker.
It was tempting to just sit at Duarte's Pond and watch the geese families, but I was too antsy. Crossing Duarte's Pond on the boardwalk, I paused to look at the wild irises in full bloom before continuing on. Usually I stick close to the Blackwater ponds but today I opted for the red path, which takes you through the woods. I was still running through my lists of things to do, but already I felt better. And why not? The trail was lined with starflowers and wild lily of the valley. Catbirds were calling and the sound of a woodpecker hard at work filled the air.
When I got to where the trail ended at a dirt road, I was surprised to be there already. I was noticing things, but there was still way too much inside my head. Here the direction can be confusing. Turn to your right and very shortly there will be a trail to your left signposted to Wompesket. You'll feel like you are entering a secret world, and you are. There are two trails that loop in the shape of an eight. All choices are good ones.
Finally my pace slowed, and I began not just to observe, but to savor. I watched a pair of mallards in one of the two small ponds and meandered through the meadows taking note of the blooming blueberries to try to remember them for later when their berries will be ripe. A friend told me the blueberry blossoms taste like blueberries. I tried a few and they do. It's just a hint, but palpable.
I had been counting the varieties of wildflowers I'd seen, but now I lost count and just enjoyed the sun on a buttercup and the tiny pink blossoms of the wild laurel. My heart stopped when I came upon a cluster of Pink Lady Slippers. These flowers thrill me. They are so rare and so beautiful and so fleeting.
After poking around the tiny stream watching frogs, I...well I'm not sure what I did. Moseying about I lost all sense of time. Now emptied out, I could turn towards home. Exiting the magic of Wompesket, I took another route back to the parking lot. This trail took me past a pond, along another trail in the Blackwater Pond Reservation system and finally along the lovely ponds themselves. My step was light and my energy and focus were just on what was there right then in that moment. Full circle brought me back to the boardwalk across Duarte's Pond and the wild iris, but now I savored them with an utterly different sensibility. Feet firmly on the ground, spirits soaring, the trek had cleaned me out. Clutter? What clutter? Basement? Once again I could tackle it all again. When it gets to be too much I'll head for the woods.
Laura Wainwright is a frequent contributor to The Times.