Familiar and fresh

Saturday, and another nine miles on a very familiar path. I’m reminded again that I’m no photographer, especially when my camera is an afterthought on a mobile device. My pictures are generic New Hampshire foliage shots – but each one is of a spot I’ve seen in all seasons for more than a decade now, on unhurried walks like this one.

Unkety Brook, Dunstable MA

Unkety Brook, Dunstable MA; osprey nest atop tree at right

When the Nashua River Rail Trail opened in 2002, an osprey nest was visible from the bridge over Unkety Brook. I look for it every year. It has taken a beating, and after one storm – was it the Halloween snowstorm of 2011? – it looked destroyed. Two springs later, the osprey were back.

Unkety Brook, Dunstable MA

Unkety Brook, Dunstable MA

There’s a farm field bordering Unkety Brook on the north side. Nothing but corn stubble remains from this year’s crop, visible as the whitish ground cover in the center left of the photo above. Most years, I see butternut squash or pumpkins in that field, but this time it was corn. We had a very dry summer, and Unkety looked low in July and August. The water level looks better heading into fall.

Nashua River Rail Trail, Pepperell MA

Nashua River Rail Trail, Pepperell MA

The glaring sun reminded me all afternoon that it would have been a good idea to wear a visor. No doubt that it’s autumn, though: the sun was much lower than at the same hour even a month ago, and it was fleece-pullover weather. The leaves on the trees edging the trail, as opposed to the trees along the nearby river and brooks, haven’t even begun to turn.

Nashua River, East Pepperell MA

Nashua River, East Pepperell MA

I have an AMC River Guide from 1978, more useful at this point for history than for navigation. About the Nashua River in Pepperell, the writers fretted: “From [Groton] to East Pepperell, the river is not attractive, as the increase in water level has flooded swampland and killed the trees.” Much has changed in 30-plus years, and the area upstream from the modest little dam in Pepperell is now in my opinion the loveliest part of the river.

Certain ceremonies must be observed: Columbus Day weekend marks season’s end for the ice cream stand in Pepperell near the rail trail, and I observed the occasion with a small-not-small dish of Moosetracks. No photo. Trust me – it was splendid.

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