Few things erase the frenzy of everyday life like nature. And mere blocks from my home is a wonderful gem: Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Belmont. Part of the Mass Audubon system -- which maintains 43 wildlife sanctuaries in the state -- Habitat is a heavenly place to walk alone or with the family in all four seasons and using all five senses.
Fall at Habitat is simply sublime. On a recent, warm, late Friday afternoon I began my explorations at the main entrance (10 Juniper Road), which is a very good place to start. There is a bulletin board, which posts events at Habitat and other Audubon locations, and there are signs indicating various trails. Meadow Trail proved to be a lovely, wide, and well-maintained path strewn with pinecones, leaves, sticks, bark, and acorns. I also visited Frog Pond, a lovely small pond surrounded by rocks, white birches, pines, and bushes. Here, it can be totally quiet or maybe you'll hear the voices of the Belmont Hill students at soccer or football practice.
We've found Habitat to be beautiful in all the other seasons too. One Christmas morning after opening too many presents and eating too many pancakes, my family hiked some of the trails. We greeted other families as we went and all of a sudden, we were celebrating an old fashioned Christmas. Spring, of course, is lovely as you watch the trees ultimately reach their luxuriant shade of green. And summer is super as one would expect, with the exception that if it has rained a lot in the spring, mosquitoes may follow in the summer.
The particulars of Habitat make it easy to enjoy; it's an easy 20-minute ride from Boston and close to many Western suburbs. Once there, you'll find free parking, a pay what you wish fee, clean, windowed restrooms, easy-to-read path markings, and even a small art gallery with changing exhibits.
Try Belmont Habitat or others in the Mass Audubon system. It's a fine place to take a work/study break, work off steam, get some exercise, enjoy peace and nature, ponder deep thoughts, eat a picnic, experience the seasons, and otherwise bond with family and friends.
Image credit: Habitat