Its a Fellsabration, a Reflection
Yesterday, 800 Medford High School Students took to the trails of the the Middlesex Fells as a part of school wide Fells Celebration Day. Students enjoyed hikes on the new Mustang Trail in Lawrence Woods lead by teachers, participated in Stewardship projects in which they planted trees, removed invasive plants and trash, and closed illegal trails. They also learned about the Fells and its significance through interactive presentations lead by Friends of the Fells volunteers. The day was a true collaboration between Medford High School, the Eagle Eye Institute, the US Forest Service, DCR, Tufts University, and the Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. I had the good fortune of being shadowed by Brian Lai, a recent graduate of the Mystic Valley Charter School (class of 2015), who will be attending Harvard in the Fall. He shared his reflections on the day with me:
I awakened early, almost like a school day, which felt abnormal for a graduated senior in June. But I was not commuting towards Mystic Valley, rather I was heading out to Medford High school to shadow Mr. Anderson, the Executive Director of the Friends of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. I viewed it as a nice opportunity to witness and volunteer for the coordination efforts of multiple organizations in the community. At the same time, this was my first time adventuring through the Middlesex Fells Reservation.
The trails of outdoors are mostly unfamiliar to me, as I had little chance to explore them in the past. However, to my surprise, there was so much to learn about the nature that existed practically in my back yard. I learned much about the types of plants around the area, what could be used for food sources—like huckleberries or sassafras—, and how to identify key markers for certain species—like 5 needles for white pines. At one point, I was put on the spot to spontaneously speak about the stone wall at one of the attraction points. I was able to give a decent info session about the wall, by relaying the information I had learned from one of the experts. I was surprised to be put on the spot, but at least I knew it went well because it ended with applause from a Medford High group!
My favorite part of the entire event was probably hearing the experts speak at the respective sites. What they said synthesized very well. Charles Saulnier emphasized on embracing the nature and wild life around us because “everything here is all interconnected” and like our extended family. Every resource we take for granted, at one point came from this great collection of life, so we need to respect it. Walter Kittredge spoke about how the death of old plant life, particularly in the case of small fires on oak trees, makes way for life of the new and encourages the growth of other species. And therefore this cycle of life and death—the new and the old—and the collection of interconnectedness, as Bryan Hamlin pointed out, have all been occurring for millions and millions of years, to the point that our ancestors were amphibious ones at a similar Vernal Pool.
Nature sure is pretty, and I am very glad that I and so many students at Medford High got to experience the Mustang Trail on a great day like today, in the presence of excellent, and sometimes even poetic botanists.
-Brian Lai, Mystic Valley Charter School, Class of 2015
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