As a child I spent many hours roaming and exploring the woods near my home. Long before the Cape became overdeveloped I learned the self discovery of adventures in nature. There was an extensive woodland near my home replete with small trails and paths that led to one exciting destination after another. My young imagination was fired up by my close connections with trees, insects, birds, and rocks. I felt like a pioneer, particularly after a snowstorm in which I imagined I was the first and only adventurer in this magnificent world.
One special trail that I remember began across the street from my home and travelled parallel to Main Street to the woodland behind my grandparents’ house. I named it Hurricane Trail after I enjoyed exploring it during one of our numerous windy nor’easters. And the name stuck. Soon other family members began referring to it as Hurricane Trail. What a wonderful escape it turned out to be. I felt that it belonged to me because I named it. In reality it crossed the property lines of several owners. But no one seemed to mind that a young boy was walking this trail, climbing the trees, and fulfilling a childhood curiosity about the natural world that continues to this day. I made it a point to walk Hurricane Trail whenever possible though the sidewalk along the street was a much shorter path to everywhere. I travelled the dirt path in all sorts of weather, actually preferring the stormy days over the calm ones. I still prefer walking in the rain. Occasionally I would share my trail with a friend, but my walks in solitude remain part of my most precious memories.
Today it’s all gone. The woods have been filled with houses and paved driveways and immaculate lawns. Undoubtedly the authorities would be notified if a young boy was seen walking among the few remaining trees now. The front entrance is blocked by a fence, and the diversity of plants has been replaced by a handful of invasive species.
I worry about a generation without its Hurricane Trails. We need quiet paths for solace, solitude and reflection. We need to listen to the sounds of rain, birds and insects. We need to be outdoors for our own sanity and survival. And we need nature to refresh our spirit and spark our imagination. I learned as a child, through discovery and direct experience, that we are part of this world. With each loss of a Hurricane Trail we lose part of ourselves.
Copyright Gil Newton 2009 Thanks to Chris Dumas for logo image.