by Barbara Walvoord
It’s an absolutely gorgeous time to walk our land. We have 150 acres on the east campus and about 15 acres on the north campus of fields, meadows, brooks, and wetlands–peaceful, quiet, full of beauty. The Land Conservation Committee now offers trail maps.
East campus: Trail maps are available on a table in the far corner of the Inn mail room, in a clear plastic brochure holder, and also at lathropland.wordpress.com/trail-map-Easthampton/. We don’t have any official wheelchair-accessible trails, but our two easiest east campus trails (#1 and #2 on the map) have, I know, been traversed by residents in electric wheelchairs. Watch for our future announcements of hikes and electric-car rides on the trails.
North Campus: The end of Shallow Brook Drive is the starting point for our two trails. The east trail is marked with white blazes and the west trail with blue. Both are rough trails, a bit hilly, with rocks and roots underfoot. Both trails terminate on Boggy Meadow Road in the Fitzgerald Lake conservation area. The Broad Brook Coalition publishes a map of the Fitzgerald Lake trails, and that map also shows our trail, which is marked as a single “loop trail” toward the bottom of the map next to the mileage key. You can get a paper copy of this map from the lobby at the Meeting House, or download it from http://www.broadbrookcoalition.org/files/Fitzgerald_Lake.pdf.
Every Thursday at 9:30 a.m., a group, “Hiking with Hans,” leaves the Meeting House. If you are interested in joining and need more info, contact Hans Van Heyst at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy hiking! Send photos and descriptions of your hikes–I’d love to incorporate them into our website and into future columns.
Yikes! This fall, you can clearly see how Lathrop’s woods are being invaded by alien shrubs and vines: the bright red of burning bush, the yellow-green of bush honeysuckle, the prickly multiflora rose and barberry, the orange berries of Oriental bittersweet vine. These plants still have leaves in fall when natives have gone dormant. They have left behind the competitors and enemies that control them in their native lands, so they can take over a woods, creating an impenetrable mass that supports many fewer insects, birds, and other wildlife than native plants.
We’re making progress against these invasives! The Land Conservation Subcommittee, working with Lathrop management, has a plan, a set of priorities, some money, and a contractor. Here is what is happening now: Continue reading Progress Against Invasive Plants
Last week, when I wrote about the old oak tree on the east campus across the field from the vegetable garden, several people asked me if something lived in the tree’s large hole, which quite obviously leads to a hollow in the trunk. I said, “I don’t know.”
Well, Eleanor Johnson’s daughter, who was visiting on Saturday, solved the mystery for us–a porcupine was sitting with its backside half out of the hole, enjoying the sun. When she approached, the porcupine scrambled back into the hole, leaving a few quills behind. Continue reading Old Oak Tree Mystery Solved
On the east campus, if you stand on the lawn at the end of Cranberry Lane and look across the field obliquely to the left, you will see a magnificent oak tree towering above all the other trees, resplendent in its rust-red leaves, which postpone falling until most other trees are bare.
You can walk to it, thanks to a mowed path arranged by Facilities Director Mike Strycharz. The path (level terrain, but rough underfoot) goes from the far end of the vegetable garden around the outside of the shrubby field. Just about opposite the garden, the path turns right, and you’ll come to the oak tree.
Our tree is a Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra), native to the eastern U.S. and Canada, known for its high-quality timber and its Continue reading Walk to Lathrop’s Old Oak Tree
It’s nearly Michaelmas–Sept. 29, the feast of St. Michael– and, right on target, the flowers that colonists called “Michaelmas Daisies” are blooming in Lathrop’s fields.
Today, people call them asters, whose name means “star,” for their multiple petals in a star-like shape. Many of the native asters in our fields are various shades of purple
The purple New England asters (Aster novae-angliae) are a major source of nectar for monarch butterflies, which have hatched on our milkweed during the summer and are preparing for their long, long fall journey to Mexico. The butterflies are fleeing the dark, cold nights, from which St. Michael, the powerful, devil-fighting archangel, is invoked to protect those of us who have to stay here. Continue reading St. Michael’s Feast — For Monarch Butterflies
Thanks to those of you from Lathrop East who responded to the questionnaire from the Land Conservation Committee, distributed in early August. We received 26 responses, and many helpful comments, which will enable us to focus our planning on the needs of our residents.
The questionnaire was sent out in the hope that it might generate interest in our beautiful meadows and woodlands, especially among those who might not have been able to visit them recently. And so it did! Many respondents expressed a desire to be taken out to see the land. We think this now becomes a real possibility in some areas, what with the recent offering of the use of Lathrop’s electric car and golf cart. Stay tuned! Continue reading Resident Survey Results: We Want to Be in Nature!
Trail is Mowed! Walk Across the Meadow to Bassett Brook
You can now walk to Bassett Brook without wading through tall grass, thanks to our own staff who have mowed a path through the meadow. It’s lovely–quiet, cool, and peaceful. Thanks to Mike Strycharz for responding to the request of the Land Conservation Subcommittee, and to Dennis who did the actual mowing on Monday morning.
So do this: start at the little blue garden shed at the end of Bassett Brook Drive. Follow the wide mowed path through the woods to the meadow. Then you can now also cross the meadow and walk through the woods about a block’s length to a bluff that looks down onto Bassett Brook. Along the way, you’ll see birds, butterflies, and wildflowers.
There should be minimal danger from ticks as long as you keep to the middle of the path and do not brush against the tall grasses where they like to sit, just waiting for you to come along so they can attach to your pants. They can’t jump.