ted kennedy passed away last night. i found out about it late in the evening when i turned on the tv around 1:30 and all the major networks were in breaking news mode. leave it to fox news to call kennedy the "radical lion of the liberal left." and that's a bad thing? when i got up this morning there was more round-the-clock coverage. my parents - who are at the cape for a few days - called to ask me if i knew the address to the kennedy compound in hyannis because they wanted to visit. maybe there's something in the drinking water but massachusetts has its fair share of powerful politicians, from the adams, to the kennedys, the tip o'neill, the michael dukakis, the john kerry. here's hoping that tradition continues.

one of the hardest part about naturing is picking the spot to visit. an encore trip to someplace i've already gone? or a tour of somewhere new (though that list is slowly diminishing)? i narrowed my selection down to the town of wayland (home to aerosmith's steve tyler and red sox nation president jerry remy), host to a slew of town conservation lands. i've done a fair amount of wayland naturing this year, with trips to a few of the larger reservations: the greenways (june) and hamlen woods (june and july). wayland also has many smaller conservation properties, and i ended up deciding on the 25 acres pod meadow as my destination.

unbeknownst to me, the entrance to pod meadow is very well hidden, which is something i like, because it means probably only locals know about it. once i got close, it took several passes on old connecticut path before i found it. what i thought to be the entrance at the terminus of wallace road was actually a downhill dead end path to the edge of a marsh. i retraced my steps and eventually found the pod meadow parking lot between hawthorne and simpson road, a small sliver of space wedged in the middle of two private residential properties.

the printed trail map to pod meadow shows a haphazardly meandering series of dotted lines, which i thought were mistakes. once i was there however, those lines turned out to be pretty accurate. down an embankment i came across several bodies of water. whether they by ponds or river estuaries or even vernal pools i couldn't exactly be sure, but it was the kind of habitat i liked, ones with a wide possibility of wildlife. one of the predominant feature is a hill that rises above the water; whether or not this is a esker i don't know either. the trees were a combination of white pines, birches, and beeches. i found several good sized beech trees that were amazingly free of carved graffiti. in autumn this must be a lovely place when the leaves become a canopy of fluttering yellow foliage.

i know a nature place is good when i find snakes: i came across a garter snake just lying on the trail (it was probably warming itself in a patch of dappled sunlight). it was a small garter snake compared to ones i've seen in the past, but even then it was easily 2 feet long. after taking several photos, i gently touched the tip of its tail and it instantly slithered away into some leaves. i don't know why, but even though i'm sort of afraid of snakes, it's one of the few wild animals i've touched on more than one occasion. maybe i like the idea of facing my fears, or maybe it's just the fact that snakes often lie so still, it's easy to imagine them not being real. of course once they start moving i pretty much instinctively flinch.

there were we a few trees toppled by beavers, but only one that looked recent. i didn't see any beaver dams, so this might be on the outskirts of a beaver community. i've got my first clear shot and identification of a pale beauty moth (Campaea perlata) - i've seen them before but never knew what they were.

there were birds but still too early for migrants. there were a lot of old-of-season wood ducks, some black ducks, and a few swans.

at the western edge of the trail i came across a small hidden boardwalk. here i found a few purple loosestrifes and orange jewelweeds. i stayed and listened to the sound of rushing water for a few minutes before continuing on the trail.

the trail eventually came out to a clearing marked as the hultman aqueduct on the map, essentially an access road running in a east-west direction. i decided to head west as far as i could to see where it'd take me. that's when i came across the only other person, a man walking his dog about a thousand yards away (not sure about the distance, close enough to make it was a person and a dog, but still far enough that they were just dots on the horizon). i kept on walking and eventually they disappeared. at some point i crossed the wayland-framingham border, and passed some perpendicular power lines. eventually the path ends and exits out to an unknown street. that was my cue to turn back. the sky by that point had gone grey and it looked like rain was imminent. i didn't want to ride back home in a thunderstorm, not with so much unprotected camera equipment.

i made some eggplant lasagna for dinner. factoring in the 30 minute bake time, it took 3 hours to make and i didn't eat until well after 10:00. my roommate - a connoisseur of all foods european - bought a bottle of inexpensive white wine he wanted to sample. since i was pretty much operating on an empty stomach (just had a strawberry yogurt for breakfast), buy the first glass i was already in a sleepy daze. the lasagna was good (made more delicious by the fact i was very hungry), but i wonder if i should've skinned the eggplant slices before covering them in bread crumbs and frying them, because the skin was a little tough to chew. otherwise not bad for a first time eggplant lasagna endeavor (i took a photo but accidently erased it from my memory card, unable to salvage it back).