A Trail Tale

Last November, I was checking trail conditions and looking for beaver activity that sometimes floods a section of the Air Line Trail in Hebron between Raymond Brook Marsh and Old Colchester Road. The trail bisects both town and state conservation lands and if anything is amiss, I contact DEEP to periodically trim down the dams to address the situation.

It was a brisk, bright Tuesday, the leaves were just past-peak in color, and I could see my breath in the morning air. Walking there was as invigorating as a fresh-brewed cup of coffee. Going westward, I left the area of the marsh, where the bright blue sunlit sky reflected off the open waters. Reeds swayed in the cool, gentle winds and the red, yellow, and orange foliage of the surrounding woods were giving way to the gold and the russet hues of autumn. Towering pines on the hillside to the north remained stoic and wonderfully unchanged. Crows cawed in the distance and the Canada Geese were gliding in at treetop level for respite along their journey on the North American Flyway.

I reentered the tree-tunneled section of the trail and noticed two hikers in the distance coming toward me. As we met, I encountered a man and his wife that appeared to be in their mid-seventies. They were red cheeked and bundled against the fall chill. He was movement-challenged and seated in a powered wheelchair, while she walked slightly behind him. I noticed that he was sporting a baseball-type cap with gold embroidering that denoted, “United States Air Force Veteran”.

I bid them “Good morning” and they both responded with shy half-smiles. Instinctively, I snapped a smart salute and thanked the man for his service. “My dad was Air Force”, I said, “and I was Army. I guess old habits like long hikes die hard and it’s a beautiful day for it.” His response was somewhat garbled, and his facial appearance suggested that he may have been the victim of a stroke. With twinkling, cheerful eyes, he studied me. Next, he looked up, made a wide, shaky, sweeping gesture with his arm toward the treetops and the sky, and then he looked back at me. “I know”, I said, “it just doesn’t get any better”.

“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.” Theodore Roosevelt

Submitted by Jim Cordier
Conservation and Inland Wetlands Agent
Town of Hebron