on a day when people were making the pilgrimage to wrentham to hit the factory outlet stores on the last day of tax-free shopping weekend in massachusetts, julie and i were in the woods of wrentham exploring the trails for her run tomorrow. it was a miserable hot and humid day and i sweated profusely, the salty perspiration mixing with the film of DEET i'd sprayed on myself in the parking lot. apparently the place is opened to recreational vehicles, and just as we arrived we saw some noisy dirt bikes riding away in a cloud of dirt. before we even left julie was warning me about wearing the proper attire; i didn't think she was serious when she said we might get wet. i found out the hard way when we had to make our way through a few storm drains. not only were they wet inside (up to my ankles), but they weere also dark and god knows what i was stepping on. it's like three fears wrapped up in one, fear of the dark, fear of confined spaces, and fear of treading on something gross. i tried not to look down as i walked through these tunnels, trying to keep my shoes dry by moving along the edge as much as possible. once we were at the other side, we saw a dirt bike stuck in the mud, the child riding the vehicle passing by us on foot a while back up a hill.
for the most part i walked behind julie, sometimes a few feet, sometimes far back enough not to see her anymore. i thought maybe we were going a little fast, but julie wasn't exactly here for the naturing. i take no pleasure in walking in the woods. when i'm out in one of my naturing expeditions, it's slow and deliberate. i take the time to listen to the birds, to smell the flowers, to eat the berries, to look around for anything new or unusual, and of course to take photos. that's why i like to go naturing by myself these days, because i am slow. on a normal nature outing i'll take a few hundred photos; today i only had a few dozen. granted, there wasn't much to see in the woods of wrentham, but given enough time i'm sure i would've found a thing or two. if only the weather could've been more cooperative; even though we were underneath the shady forest canopy, the temperature was still hot and humid. the sky seemed like it would rain at times with sounds of distant thundering but it never did while we were in the woods.
we started in the southern part of wrentham woods, meandering our way through the maze-like system of trails, then making our way to the northern property. at one point for some reason i was running through the trees stepping on jagged rocks when i lost my balanced and started to fall down. little did i realize that my body has a mind of its own and decided i wouldn't be going down without a fight, as my legs kept running until i miraculously uprighted myself to the shock of julie who watched the whole strange event transpire. we got as far as trout pond, where we bumped into a man playing with his large german shepherd who told us about "the hill," a scenic vista further along a hill where we could get a good view of the town of wrentham. the hill used to be a former ski slope and a lot of abandoned ski-lift machinery dotted the area. after resting a bit (and using the gps' compass capability) we started heading back, making our way onto taunton road and walking south alongside the small highway back to where we parked the car.
as for wildlife there wasn't much to see. a huthatch, maybe a wren, and some distinctive bird songs. occasionally i'd see a feather, from a bluejay, or a cardinal, or perhaps a wild turkey. back along the storm drain there were many frogs, including one very bloated specimen whom we thought was dead until it started wriggling around and winked at julie. inside one of the storm drains we startled a bat, who was flying back and forth between us until i bent down so it could fly behind me deeper into the tunnel. there were also an occasional dragonfly, but nothing i haven't seen before. on the main roads we saw a few dead garter snakes.
by then it was already 4:30pm. tired, thirsty, hungry, we decided to find a place to eat, preferably one that had bottomless soda drinks. we drove south to north attleboro and found box seats (500 east washington street, north attleboro), a place julie had eaten before (but in rhode island), a local sports memorabilia restaurant, with a lot of families and senior citizens. we both had the spicy cajun chicken sandwich (which come with fries) while i had a corn chowder along with my order. they also had free soup, some sort of onion soup. the food was very satisfying after wandering the whole day in the forest, but once again i ate to the point of bursting, groaning all the way back to the car. by then it started raining, the weather getting more severe as we approached boston. on 95 in needham we were stuck in some nasty traffic, as police cars and ambulances raced ahead of us. we sat in the car, fighting over radio stations, trying to keep the windows from fogging up, watching the occasional lightning bolt zigzag out of the clouds overhead. we were probably there for an hour before the congestion let up. that's when we saw what caused the slowdown: a car flipped upright on its side, completely burned to a crisp. close to cambridge, on route 2, we saw a few more accidents along the side of the road.
once i got home i immediately took a hot shower to wash off the DEET from my body and relaxed in the living room with the air conditioner on. the red sox game that was rain delayed eventually ended up being cancelled. on the evening news i saw a report of the car accident we saw on the highway.