Exploring June in The Last Green Valley

Exploring June in The Last Green Valley

“What finer time of year could one ask for in which to be born than on a day in June? Here on this old farm, which seems the perfect setting for two so interested in the out-of-doors as Nellie and I, another birthday finds me as absorb in the continuing story of the living world, as deeply appreciative of our great good fortune in dwelling in its midst as ever before. Far away is the noise, the crush, the fume-laden atmosphere of all the great cities of the world.”
Edwin Way Teale, from A Walk Through the Year, essay for June 2.

I was also born in June, and as I grow deeper into my sixth decade, I continue to be amazed and bedazzled by daily discoveries and experiences out-of-doors. We are fortunate to live in the same region naturalist and author Edwin Way Teale called home and wrote about. His writings continue to inform us and inspire us to explore the wooded hills and river valleys just beyond our doorstep.

Spring is sliding into summer. The temperature hit 86 degrees at my house two weeks ago, reminding me the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is fast approaching.

Here at The Last Green Valley, Inc. (TLGV) our Spring Outdoors program continues for another three weeks. It concludes with a Summer Solstice Sunset Paddle June 20 at Mansfield Hollow in Mansfield. If you would like to join me, send me an email at bill@tlgv.org or call our office at 860-774-3300.

This month is also when you can get the TLGV 2024 Explore Guide, our annual, complimentary publication for outdoor, indoor and around town adventures. It is hot off the press with 175 pages of locations and experiences to enjoy here in The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. Members get them in their mailboxes, but we also distribute them to our partner organizations, libraries and municipal buildings in the Heritage Corridor and beyond. You can also call us at 860-774-3300, and we’ll drop one in the mail to you.

Here are some of my favorite places to explore this month. Each is listed in the new Explore Guide, including hiking, paddling, museums, cultural landmarks and farmer’s markets.

Connecticut Audubon Society at Trail Wood – The Edwin Way Teale Memorial Sanctuary, 93 Kenyon Road, Hampton, home of Edwin and Nellie Teale. You’ll enjoy an extensive trail network that is open daily from dawn to dusk with the buildings and Teale home open for special events or by appointment. https://www.ctaudubon.org/trail-wood-home/

Claire Birtz Wildlife Sanctuary – Opacum Land Trust, Tipton Rock Road, Southbridge, MA with three trails winding along the shore of Morse Pond and through 116 acres of beach, hemlock and mixed forest habitat. https://www.opacumlt.org/properties/claire-birtz-wildlife-sanctuary/

Nipmuck Trail, Fenton River at Gurleyville Grist Mill – Joshua’s Trust, 129 Stonemill Road, Storrs. The stone Gurleyville Grist Mill was built in the 1830s and is owned by Joshua’s Trust. It is open 1 – 5 pm Sundays from mid-May to mid-October or by appointment. It is located on the beautiful Fenton River with the blue blazed Nipmuck Trail passing alongside the river and adjacent to the mill. A great place to learn the history of the mill and go for a hike at the same time. https://joshuastrust.org/gurleyville-grist-mill/

The National Heritage Corridor is home to six U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project areas. While the main function of these large water bodies and surrounding acreage is for flood control, they also offer exceptional recreational opportunities from paddling and fishing, to hiking and in some locations camping, horseback riding and disc golf.

One of my favorite river paddle locations is the Quinebaug River from Holland Pond to East Brimfield Lake, within the US Army Corps of Engineers’ East Brimfield Lake Project and Watchable Wildlife Area. This segment of the Quinebaug is a meandering, family-friendly 4-mile paddle between Holland Pond and the East Brimfield Lake boat ramp. This is also the first segment of the Quinebaug River National Recreation Water Trail with 45 miles of paddling from Holland MA to Canterbury, CT. Information is also on the TLGV website at: https://thelastgreenvalley.org/member-directory/quinebaug-river-nrt-holland-pond-to-east-brimfield-lake/

For museums to visit this month, I am partial to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge MA since I worked there for almost three decades before coming to TLGV in 2006. The Village is one of the country’s largest outdoor living history museums and is a recreated 1830s rural New England town. The museum’s more than 200 acres and 40 historical buildings come to life with costumed historians demonstrating the daily tasks of the past of early 19th-century New England life. For more information check out their website at https://www.osv.org/

One of the more distinctive landmarks in our region is the majestic equestrian statue and tomb of Revolutionary War Hero General Israel Putnam. Located in the center of Brooklyn on Rt. 169, it is also located in front of the Brooklyn Historical Society & Daniel Putnam Tyler Law Office. The museum houses a permanent General Putnam Gallery with exhibits about his fascinating life. Museum hours are Wednesdays and Sundays, 1 – 5 pm, From May 22 to Oct. 13 or by appointment. https://www.brooklynct.org/historical-society

The Explore Guide also provides information on farms, orchards and nurseries, with many open to the public for purchase of fresh veggies, meats, dairy products and more. We are fortunate to have many farmers’ markets in our region. I enjoy visits to all of them, in particular the markets located near me in Putnam run by the NECT Farmers’ Market Association, https://www.nectfarmersmarket.org/, and the Putnam Saturday market at the Putnam Riverview Marketplace.

I am also partial to the Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market at Hale Homestead in Coventry with many vendors, themed markets and live music. Today is the opening day for the market’s season. Visit https://www.coventryfarmersmarket.org to learn more. Don’t forget to take a tour of the Nathan Hale Homestead while you’re visiting the market. Information on the Hale Homestead can be found at https://ctlandmarks.org/properties/nathan-hale-homestead/.

June is here and summer is just around the corner, which means there is always so much to experience in The Last Green Valley. Let us remember the words of Edwin Teal in describing his home here in our region as the perfect setting to be “absorbed in the continuing story of the living world, as deeply appreciative of our great good fortune in dwelling in its midst as ever before.”

Join me and together let us care for it, enjoy it, and pass on this incredible region we call home.

Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. He can be reached at bill@tlgv.org or 860-774-3300.


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