Thursday, April 9, 2020

Bidwell House, Monterey

Spring is the best time of year to enjoy the trails at the Bidwell House in Monterey. Some of the trails were a little wet here and there, but the lack of leaves allows for views of the stone walls and old wood roads and other remnants from the over 250 years of farming on this property. The trails in the deciduous forest are bright and sunny, you can glimpse the surrounding hills and see the "bones" of the trees. 

As I walked out behind the house, the young trees are growing up tall but the older even taller oaks stand out. I walked down to the hillside to Shaker Pond on Jerusalem Road with it's beautiful stonework. My hike, according to Map My Hike app, was 5.5 miles. I met no other hikers/walkers on the trails except at the house where volunteers were doing some spring cleanup. Social distancing was observed!

Here are some of the notable things I found.

The website says:  The Bidwell House Museum, set in the Berkshire hills of Western Massachusetts, is an elegant Georgian saltbox originally built circa 1760 as a parsonage. Authentically restored, filled with antiques and surrounded by 192 acres of beautiful grounds and hiking trails, the museum tells the story of the early settlement of the Berkshires. The museum is open Thursday through Monday between 11 am and 4 pm from Memorial Day to October, with tours on the hour.

One of the reasons that I love to visit the Bidwell House in the spring is to check out the Butterbur with its early spring flowers. These flowers and the rosette of leaves at the base are so different from the rhubarb-sized leaves that emerge later.
I have read that it can be invasive and was used as for medicinal purposes.

This hornet's nest was in the middle of the trail on the ground. This time of year it was, of course, abandoned. I'm glas that I didn't walk this trail in the summer when stepping on it would have garnered me some nasty stings!
This small brook beside the old road on the hill down Jerusalem Road is actually the abandoned older lane. Many years ago when the road got too deeply eroded, and impassable with the mud, they simply relocated the road parallel and alongside it. Simple, and did not require heavy equipment!

Here you can see the od road that I was walking on the right which is dry and navigable, and the older road on the left which is now very wet and not suitable for vehicle (neither wagon nor motorized) travel.

It's been many years since wagons or vehicles used the old road but here was a stone town marker from 1915 reminding me that at one time it indeed was a thoroughfare.
It was inscribed with T (Tyringham) on one side and M (Monterey) on the other.

Shaker Pond Dam, a reminder of the Shaker settlement once here. The amazing rockwork used no cement.

Another view of the outflow from the pond.

The pond had a pair of mallard ducks and eight geese swimming peacefully around, although the geese began squawking loudly as I approached and the ducks flew off to the other end of the pond. 
I think what these signs are saying is that the Berkshire Natural Resources Council owns the property here and MassWildlife maintains the conservation easement on it. This is the reason these trails are open for walking.

Here is a stone with evidence of a red squirrel who ate the seeds from the pine cones. So s/he finds a favorite spot, in this case on this rock, brings the cone here and pulls it apart to get to the seeds which it eats, leaving the inedible parts.

Close up of the middens.

This year I have seen more middens than I can remember. Probably because last fall was a mast year--a huge crop of cones.

Stump sprouts--I love this! I often see much older trees, in this case a beech, with three or more trunks. This is how that configuration occurred. The mature tree was cut down and the sprouts began growing from between the bark and the wood. Only the strongest two, three or four sprouts will survive to become strong trunks.

View from the front of the Bidwell House.

Another view from the front of the Bidwell House.