Day two into recording my Walking in Westford adventures, and I decided to walk in Lowell. Perhaps this is against the purpose. After all, part of my motivation for this project is to embrace my new town and recognize that I no longer live in Lowell. Still, I am from Lowell and my heart will always be there.
After dropping the girls off at the Wonders of Water camp at the Tsongas Industrial History Center, the Doodle and I headed to the little parking lot on Lawrence Street, by the entrance to the Lowell Cemetery. Every time I drive by this little lot I vow to walk the path but never have the time or the right shoes. Today, with the dog in her reflective pink harness and my iPhone's pedometer set, I parked the car, pocketed a plastic bag (just in case) and started walking.
The paved path follows the high voltage power lines, but still, things quiet down fairly quickly. The Concord runs swift here. When he lived by the Old North Bridge, Nathaniel Hawthorne said he watched that river for over a week before finally figuring out in which direction it flowed - that's how quiet this river is for much of it's length. Here there is no question and even a city boy like Hawthorne would have had no trouble. There are some good views to the river and to the backs of some old brick buildings. And, along the path, there is a delight of wildflowers - purple thistle, Black-Eyed Susans, Queen Anne's Lace, Goldenrod. The path's edges need weeding as the wild tries to take back the spot, but I was happy with how clean and basically maintained the area was.
Doodle was bouncing from one side of the path to the other, trying not to miss any smells. My eyes darted on all sides, trying not to miss any color. And, pretty quick, I saw ahead a truck for Bradford Industries behind a tall chain-link fence. I thought the path must loop around the fence, to the river, but the pavement stopped there, about a quarter of a mile in. I looked around and saw some tamped down weeds leading down to the river, but didn't feel equipped today to follow it (with bare ankles inviting tics). Besides, the dog is afraid of water and I did not want to fight with her. (Yes, my part labrador, part poodle is afraid of water.) We turned back toward the car.
At the parking lot, I checked my pedometer. 0.587 miles roundtrip. Not exactly the big walk I was hoping for today. I noticed a stack of granite blocks by the road, with some writing and found a nice quote from Paul Tsongas about the importance of being good stewards and of sharing our basic resources. A very simple monument, it fit nicely with the place. I looked up and down the road, but decided not to walk Doodle on Lawrence Street. I packed her back in the car and drove into the Cemetery to visit my Dad's and brother's graves. I also love walking in the Lowell Cemetery, but I don't like to walk the dog here - I'm a stickler for certain rules (besides, my Dad didn't really like dogs). We watered the flowers and headed home.
Checking out the Concord River Greenway on the laptop (which, perhaps I should have done before setting out) I see that they are still in the works and this little stretch is one of the first completed sections. They would eventually connect the path to the downtown area, where the Concord empties into the Merrimack. They even plan to connect it to the Bruce Freeman Train, which means I'd be able to walk or bike there from Westford. So. I'll keep searching our good places to walk around my new town, and to follow some of these paths right out of town. After all, New England is a small place. There is no edge of town out here; each town melds into the next with disregard for the whims of Selectmen or zoning regulations. For today, Doodle and I will walk through Nabnasset on our normal route by the lake. It doesn't smell as good, but there is great color in the gardens.
If you want to check out the Greenway, the link is below.