Access to Nature Shouldn’t Be a Privilege

Crystal Lake, Newton, MA
Crystal Lake

Most days of summer I ride my bike up the street to Crystal Lake where I swim. On the way, I pass Bullough’s Pond. Trees line the streets and small wooded parks are scattered throughout the suburban city in which I live. I’m lucky and know it.

If I want to go one notch up the niceness scale, I can drive a half hour to Walden Pond. And, when invited, I visit friends with houses in beautiful areas of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. This makes me doubly lucky.

Thinking about privilege reminds me of The Fresh Air Fund that gives New York City children the opportunity to spend part of the summer with a host family or at a camp outside the city. While a summer of fresh air is a start, everyone deserves a safe and healthy environment all year long.

Mountaintop Lake Ossipee
Mountaintop near Ossipee Lake

My first trip of the summer was to Freedom, New Hampshire. My friend Tatjana introduced me to a trail up a small mountain overlooking Ossipee Lake. On another trail, with varied terrain, I wasn’t quick enough to see the beaver, but later had a long look at a broad-winged hawk perched high in a tree next to the house. That evening we enjoyed wild edible mushrooms Tatjana found on our hike.

Danforth Ponds, Lake Ossipee, New Hampshire
Paddling the kayak, Ossipee Lake
Lily pads on Danforth Ponds
Lily pads on Danforth Ponds

In a double kayak, we paddled through the inlet to Danforth Ponds where we found lily pads, the eyes of a swimming turtle, and mountains in the distance. With only a paddle boarder and two kayaks on the other side of the pond, I listened to the sounds of nature that are usually drowned out by man-made noise. I did have to ask the paddleboarder guide to turn down the volume of the music blaring from her phone!

 Wild blueberries
Wild blueberries

Summer in New Hampshire means wild blueberries. They grow alongside roads, in the sandy soil of a former airport, in the woods, and on mountaintops. We spotted a few wild strawberries, too.

View of Mount Monadnock
View of Mount Monadnock

After a few days at home, I was ready to head back to Troy, New Hampshire to pick more blueberries. On my annual trek with Judy and Harry, we climb a small mountain near Mount Monadnock where blueberries are plentiful. It’s the perfect hike to do with friends who’ve never seen a blueberry growing wild. One in the bucket, one in my mouth, one in the bucket, one in my mouth…

While we ate our sandwiches, two birds on treetops tweeted back and forth. On our way down, fellow hikers showed us a photo of the snake they encountered on the trail. I wasn’t disappointed to have missed the real thing!

LIttle Squam Lake, NH
Little Squam Lake

Unlike Sal in the children’s book Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, I didn’t meet a mother bear and cub. But, the night before I arrived at Little Squam Lake, my friends heard the growl of a bear behind the house. And I wasn’t the one to see the bear on the road, which was fine with me. Years ago, I had my own sighting of a bear lumbering across the road while cycling the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada.

To ensure a healthy planet for future generations, we need to do all in our power to protect it.

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