Blue Hills Reservation, Fri. after Thanksgiving, 2011

Politics, Exercise, and Nature.

From Route 138 at 128, took first right (Chicatawbut Rd.) into the Blue Hills Reservation. There’s a parking spot on the left, with multiple trail-heads around. We started up 5 Corners Path (look for the granite column/marker), up and up through fallen oak forest, some pines. Amazing that this peaceful woods is so close to Boston. Amazing that it hit 60° today, end of November in New England! Saw one mountain-biker, 2 or 3 family groups, another couple or two. Hit the blue Skyline Trail, which traverses the ridges of the Reservation. Followed trails back down, crossing a brook 3 times. Steep rocky climbs down to the brook, then back up to the ridge. Huffing and puffing, but fun. Take THAT, Stuffing! I’ll hike you off. Finally came down on Coon Hollow Path, and walked along the road back to the car.

I don’t usually get political while hiking, but… We were enjoying safe, cleared paths, with moss – and lichen-covered stone walls marking the trail edges. Many of these trails were cleared and maintained by the Civilian Conservation Corp, from 1933 – 1942. 70 years later, we’re enjoying the enduring legacy of a public works project that put the unemployed to work, and created a natural treasure accessible to all, for all time.  How helpful to the unemployed in that time of bitter need, and how forward-thinking. FDR could never have imaged that 70 years later, Americans would be so “plugged in” and even more in need of non-electronic space and time, but his policies provided it.

As Thoreau said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” FDR’s CCC, 70 years later, is still helping us go “to the woods” and live. 

But what will be the legacy of the Great Recession we’re suffering through now? Where are the plans to put the unemployed to work now, AND to create a benefit that will endure? Congressional Republicans won’t even agree to stimulus spending to repair crumbling dangerous bridges, let alone create new access to natural areas. The Blue Hills Reservation is a permanent legacy of FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corp; foreclosures, unemployment, greater poverty, and pain will be the legacy of the Great Recession, unless we elect thoughtful, forward-thinking congresspersons.

In the meantime, hike and thank those who built and maintain these paths of life.



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