Thinking Big

A return trek to the old neighborhood off Hut Road in Stoneham left me thinking big.

J.M joined me for this exploration and it’s a wonder we got any further than our parking place beside Great Brook.

Great Brook

It was a sensational, albeit too warm for this time of year, December day. We could have spent all our time taking in the sounds and smells and sights as the water coursed over the rocks.


But we pulled ourselves away and went in search of a time gone by. Single and double-wide stone walls line the old road and mark pastures and gardens. Miles of walls.

rock pile

And dotting the landscape–piles of rocks picked from the ground. This was farm country before the forest took over.

fdn 1root cellar

We called on the neighbors and were glad they didn’t mind us examining their root cellar. The only contents–old porcupine scat in the back corner.


The foundation is big and must have supported a large family. Today, it’s home to a large family tree.


It always excites us to find other signs of life–including a stone-lined well; it’s a deep subject.

fdn 2

The neighbors lived up the street in an equally large home. Were they related? We’re still trying to figure that out.

Red Rock Brook

We paused beside Willard Brook before turning back.

polypores chaga

Passing through rich woods, we found ourselves in the land where giant polypores and chaga thrive.

moose scat

That’s not all that thrives here. Moose browse on striped maple and piles of scat were abundant.

bearblack bear scat

We practically tripped over the biggest scat of all. Well, J.M. tripped. And that’s how it caught our attention. Classic. Love it.

sugar maple

Equally impressive in size and perseverance. And age. The sugar maples.


And because J.M. was with me, we saw things I may have passed by like the ice patterns on leaves. We celebrated hiking together knowing that the small things in life are the biggest.

Milling About

snow waves

Today’s tramp found us heading north on Moose Pond again. The pond is covered in snowmobile tracks and snow swirls like these.

coyote print

Though we sink into the snow, this coyote had no problem moving along.


Snowshoes were a must for both of us. Our intended destination was Rueben Bennett’s saw mill–or at least the remnants of it. I’d been there about a year and a half ago with the current land owner and another friend, and wanted to show my guy. A couple of men who lived in the Old City neighborhood I wrote about yesterday, may have worked at the mill.

beaver lodge

We were almost to the outlet of the brook when we saw that this beaver lodge is active. Notice the breathing hole at the top. We moved away quickly so as not to add any more stress to them.

 cat tails

It looks like the fluffy seeds of these cattails are still emerging. It won’t be long before the Red-winged Blackbirds are perching on them.


Following the stream, we kept looking for the rocks left from the mill site.


Along the way, I spotted this lungwort or lung lichen. It’s one of my favorites because when it’s dry like this, it’s light in color and very brittle. But after a rain storm, it turns bright green and is quite pliable. And it’s got that lettuce leafy look to it. Some describe it as a lung tissue appearance. I’ll stick with the lettuce, thank you very much. Lungwort is an indicator species for a rich, healthy ecosystem. Always a good find.


I’m not a mushroom expert, but I do know that this is Chaga. Another good find.  Unlike most other  hard, woody fungi, Chaga is coveted for its nutritional and medicinal benefits. If you want to know where this one is, you’ll have to follow our breadcrumb trail. I recently learned that the Siberians call it the “Gift from God” and the “Mushroom of Immortality.” To the Japanese, it is “The Diamond of the Forest,” and for the Chinese, “The King of Plants.” A mighty good find. It’s still there.

red maple swamp

We looked high and low for the mill site. At last we came to this Red Maple swamp and decided that perhaps it was Duck Pond, and we’d gone too far.

old City up the hill

Old City is located right up the hill. I was almost certain we were in the right place, but our search turned up nothing.

examining the erratic

We examined this rock to see if it was a glacial erratic or had been moved here for some reason. I vote for glacial erratic.


After three hours of tramping about, we started for home. The wind was cool at our backs, but someone took of his snowshoes and you can see that it’s getting a bit slushy on the pond.

heading home

What’s that line about walk beside me and be my friend. I know it looks like I’m always following, but that’s not the case all the time. I do like to pause frequently and take photos to remember and ponder at a later time.

It turns out that we were milling about in the wrong area. I should have looked at my friend’s Web site prior to today’s adventure. She almost always has her GPS handy and had posted the exact location. I knew it didn’t feel quite right, but I was so certain it was closer to Old City than it actually is.

Oh well. A destination for another time.

Thanks for joining me for today’s wonder-filled discoveries.