Monday, September 26, 2011

Bicycles, Summer Squash, & The Old Colony Rail Trail, Chatham, Massachusetts

All over the Cape (or Cape Cod, Massachusetts, as most folks know it), railroad tracks have been converted to dirt paths in the piney woods, and finally tarred 'bicycle paths'/pedestrian walkways where bicycles have the right of way, and folks can safely bike across the Cape, enjoying the scenery without fighting the clogged streets of summer.  Now that it's fall, Marash Girl decided it was time to take her chances with the bicycles, fewer in number because of the season, and  walk along the Old Colony Rail Trail in Chatham, Massachusetts.  It was a typical Chatham Day, slightly overcast, slightly foggy, with the warmth of summer still hovering..
The path, ( looking more like the Route 20 in Marash Girl's childhood,) was safe for bicycles (no spills because of unseen boulders, no imminent collisions with unaware motorists), was no longer the dirt path in the woods she remembered from ten years ago.  But it was still a  path, and it still allowed a moment of respite from the hustle bustle of the world beyond the trail.  And look, some bicycles have actually reclaimed (on the left)  dirt for a path going up the hill to the left.  Marash Girl walked by this very spot yesterday and spying what appeared to be a squash plant, she walked along the path to the top of the hill and found a plant in full bloom with a baby yellow summer squash just beginning to form.  Marash Girl was delighted to find this plant in the 'wilds of Chatham', (a plant which typically grows only in a cultivated garden), a plant which had survived on the side of a well-travelled (as it were) road.  The wonder of this plant blooming and bearing fruit -- by the graces of the wind? of a bird? of a coyote's fur? of a bicycle rider's clothing?  Whatever it was, it was exciting and a miracle.  She resolved to come back with her camera the next day to photograph the beautiful baby squash.
But when she returned with her camera, and walked up the dirt path to the top of the hill, she found a mangled baby summer squash (see above left) and the plant itself struggling to regain its hold on life.  A bicycle (tire marks to prove it) had taken a fun 'side trip' off of the tarred Rail Trail, and destroyed the infant squash  (the cyclist probably had never seen a squash plant before, much less paid attention to the flora that surrounded him, or if s/he had, s/he was riding too fast to notice).  Marash Girl was saddened by the loss, and by the ignorance that speed and separation from the earth creates.
Marash Girl took heart when she spied, hiding a little farther back in the woods, a fresh summer squash flowering, waiting to grow into adulthood!


  1. God was the Gardener who planted the summer squash!

  2. Marko Pasha remembers;

    I grew up in Hopkinton. There was a rail line that had through town. Originally it was the Milford, Hopkinton and Woonsocket Railroad. That became part of the Old Colony Railroad, which in turn became part of the New Haven.
    In the spring of 1964 we moved to aHouse on Hayden Rowe Street that was near the abandoned rail line. I love trains and loved to walk along the abandoned rail line and imagine the trains that had run on it. The rails were still in place at the time.
    In the early'60s my father was on the Conservation Commission. He proposed that the town acquire the right of way and turn it into a
    bicycle/bridle path. At the time nobody was interested. Bicycling was not yet wide spread as a adult pastime and we kids were content to ride our bikes along the roads. I think at the time nobody else had that much imagination.
    As for the bridle path part, there were 3 or 4 families in town that owned horses. I assume that had space to ride, or were also content to ride along the roads. My father probably imagined Hopkinton more equestrian that actually was.
    Years have passed. Hopkinton has joined the bedroom communities and doubled in population. I read some place that the town has turned old rail road road bed into a bicycle path.
    Dad was just 40 years ahead of his time. :-)

  3. @AnonymousTo Marko Pasha -- Hats off to folks like your dad!

  4. Marko Pasha says... I think our dads had some things in common.