We must have passed the place a thousand times without stopping: a roadside parking lot with a quiet sign inviting visitors. Then a miniature windmill was added, amplifying the welcome. So when we found the Plotterkill Preserve overflowing on Mothers Day, the Great Flats Nature Trail proved a fine Plan B.
Clouds cloaked the sun by the time we hit the trail. In an hour of slow walking and gawking under gray skies, we met only four other groups of wanderers. All were families; half with dogs, securely leashed. Nobody wore masks, but distancing was easy and everybody did.
The trails mostly offered dry footing; where some went soupy, logs laced our way across ink-black mud. Wooden platforms spanned the swampy parts. Walking there was its own reward, among endless varieties of green. Gray and brown vines reached upward on trunks from boggy flatlands, sometimes eclipsing the trees supporting them. Ponds and streams threaded through rusting dried grasses; some bubbly-alive, some stagnant-still. Wildflowers clumped sociably together.
Enough people roamed the place that wild-life seemed scarce, hiding from us – except for birds. Cardinals, red-winged blackbirds and mallards perched, flew or swam nearby. Some yelled at us, others kept up their everyday conversations; bragging about the Red Sox leading the American League east, complaining about the weather, ridiculing what we wore.
This was their place and we were just visiting.