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The Great Outdoors

by Terry Date, Eagle Tribune

The North of Boston region offers walkers paths to relief in troubled times. From the soft beach sand on Plum Island and the inland meadows and hills of Andover to the paved, riverside walkways in the heart of urban Lawrence and the oceanside beauty surrounding Halibut Point in Rockport, simple spring pleasures await the venturesome and careful. Land, sky and water invite discovery and recognition at a time when reports of threats from COVID-19 and economic decline pull our attention to monitors and screens, according to seasoned trekkers with favorite spots to divulge. Erin LaRosa and her family of five, including three school-age kids, have been getting out daily to hike and explore parks and trails both familiar and obscure. Their sojourns have taken them to Plum Island beaches, good old Maudslay State Park in Newburyport and Bradley Palmer State Park in Topsfield. They were hoping to head to the city forest and Moseley Woods in Newburyport this week, with a hike up Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, planned for this weekend. “Being outdoors, even on a rainy day, is what is keeping us sane,” the Newburyport mom said. LaRosa and others said that a walk’s sights, smells and sounds restore body and mind. Just keep 6 feet away from others. “Getting outside and moving your body and enjoying nature and the beauty of where we live lifts our spirits and helps us get through this difficult time,” said Erin Canniff, the physical education and wellness teacher at Rockport Elementary School. “We have been spending lots of time in the woods, walking and mountain biking, surfing — and watching sunsets.” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker this week put in place a stay-at-home advisory for Bay State residents. The order makes exceptions for essential activities and jobs — and for walking. “What this means is that everyone can still buy food at the grocery store, get what they need at the pharmacy, and — of course — take a walk around the block or at the park,” Baker said in an address on Monday. Still, at least one conservation organization, The Trustees of Reservations, which owns and manages more than 100 properties in the state, has closed the sites through April 7, shutting gates (where they stand), closing parking lots and telling staff to stay home. The decision has spurred both disappointment and support among those who frequent the natural settings, according to posts on The Trustees’ Facebook page. Its leadership recognizes that walks in parks do not violate the governor’s restrictions on activities due to COVID-19 and urges those who choose to visit the organization’s outdoor locations — many of which are accessible regardless of the closure — to maintain social distancing. Read more >>


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