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Alewife Poetry Stroll, August 18, 2018

Poets Barbara Thomas and Elizabeth Quinlan led a beautiful “Poetry Stroll” at the Alewife Reservation on Saturday, sponsored by Friends of Alewife Reservation, paying tribute to the variety of habitats available there for local wildlife. The themes of Restoration and Connection to Nature permeated the poems as well as the commentary by local naturalist Anne-Marie Lambert, who spoke about the history of the land, water, and people who have known this place.

The steamy morning stroll began with a visit to the Friends of Alewife Community Garden, where Mountain Mint, Tansies, New York Ironweed, and Meadow Rue were well taken care of by buzzing pollinators. Participants admired the garden, the Monarchs, and the nearby meadow growing among a grid of trees from the former parking lot used by Arthur D. Little employees, now Forrester employees who are tending the garden during the summer. Poems recalled a Berkshire poetry retreat and childhoods filled with wonder. A 3-person reading of Sam Hamill’s “A Lover’s Quarrel” gave pause to consider when and how we remember and find home in a new place.

A mallard duck greeted participants by the Little River, where they learned of events which led to a malaria outbreak and the century-old dredging of Pickerel Brook to create this river and to drain the Great Swamp. A startled blue heron took off with great drama as Quinlan started reading her “Parker River Refuge, Plum Island,” which described a calmer blue heron enjoying that place. Thomas’ “Quinebaug River” and “Country Road” demonstrated the staying power of childhood adventures by a riverside.

As the group approached the North Trail and nearby woods, participants read poems of Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Denise Levertov, Tu Fu and others. It was a treat to spy a deer hiding in the woods, one of a local herd. Quinlan’s “Oh Praise the Trees” recalled the many cultural traditions centered on trees, a reminder of how precious trees in both the city and wild are to local residents. Friends of Alewife Reservation has advocated for many years to support the natural resources at Alewife through legislation and tour walks and summer camps, in hopes for greater conservation measures for the Reservation.

Thomas brought the summer stroll to a close with her poems “Wildflower” and “The Falls”. She remembered with humor how to find the primeval paradise where a stream led to a redolent waterfall near her childhood home. With that, the stroll itself became a magical memory for participants as they contemplated the many generations and types of natural restoration represented at Alewife Reservation that FAR hopes to regenerate in the regional community surrounding the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation's protected Reserve.

For more information about Friends of Alewife Reservation, call 617-290-4864

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About Friends of Alewife Reservation

The Alewife Reservation is a unique natural resource for the communities of Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge and home to hundreds of species, including hawks, coyotes beavers, snapping turtles, wild turkeys and muskrats, the reservation is a unique natural resource for the community.
Historical information (Powerpoint)

Friends of Alewife Reservation works to protect and restore this wild area and the surrounding area for the water quality, native plants, animals and over 90 bird species with paths for walking, running and biking, recreation, and for classroom education and research. We regularly steward and preserve the Reservation area for wildlife and for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

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About Friends of Alewife Reservation
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The Birds of the Cambridge Region of Massachusetts

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Biodiversity Study of Alewife Reservation Area: Species, Habitat, Ecosystems

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Updated Dave Brown Inventories (2008, 2010)

Inventories of Alewife Reservation Wetland Plants by Walter Kittredge, Botanist (2013)
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