April is the time of year when my thoughts turn to getting reacquainted with this beautiful outdoor canvas of nature. Winter is my quiet season. I look within myself and think about my dreams, my hopes, my goals. It's a natural time for introspection. I hunker down in our cozy cottage and concentrate on my art. This is when I learn new techniques and do a lot of experimenting. But as the wheel of the year continues to turn, I start to feel a restlessness. It's subtle at first, just like the appearance of the intrepid snowdrops and the reemerging of the earliest robins and rabbits. But it continues to strengthen until I know it's time to get outdoors and do some exploring and foraging. So, in my next few blogs, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite walks.
I am going to begin with the Gertrude M. Borden Wildlife Refuge, which is owned by the City of Taunton. I was traveling along Route 44 one day this winter, when I spotted a small, unobtrusive sign for the Refuge. I decided to check it out. There was an icy cover of snow on the ground, and I knew I would have to be careful, but I am so glad that I took the chance. Borden Park has 4.1 miles of public trails, and they are well-maintained and clearly marked. I later learned that a group of volunteers is responsible for the preservation of the Refuge. They also promote programs about conservation and the local flora and fauna. They are often assisted by local Scout troops that clean around the picnic and hiking areas.
The first thing that I discovered, right at the beginning of one of the trails, was an impressive collection of cement animals. They were painted in bright, happy colors with striking details. I later learned that these creations were the work of Lou Robino, who was a retired worker of the Taunton Department of Public Works. He painstakingly designed each one in a whimsical, almost childlike style. There is a large rock at the beginning of the trail with the words "Enchanted Forest" painted on it. I understand that plans are in the works for a sign "Lou's Garden", which will honor his efforts.
By the way, Gertrude Borden, who was born in Quebec, Canada in 1905, was responsible for the acquisition of the land. She was a very forward-thinking female, attending Boston University at a time when not many women went to college. Her family was very well known for its civic mindedness and philanthropy, and in the 1960's she became involved in conservation efforts in the city of Taunton. She was instrumental in purchasing the land that was to become the Borden Refuge. She died in Florida in 2002 at the age of 97.
The Eagle Scouts of Taunton have also worked on a variety of projects such as the refurbishment of a Butterfly Garden, the restoration of an old cabin, and a Fragrance Garden as well. They have been responsible for the creation of a trail map.
If you decide to make this trek, you will not be disappointed. This refuge has something to offer in every season, but it shines in the springtime. You will see breathtaking views of Three Mile River and the Fishery. Some trails are more challenging and steeper than others, but others are simple and straightforward. Even sitting in the picnic area with a steaming cup of coffee is an experience not to be missed.