Five minutes from the monastery

Unlike the rest of Bowdoin Park, Mapleknoll Marsh, which is tucked into its northeastern corner, seems to be largely–if not entirely–unmaintained. The boardwalk is sound but fraying, and tall reeds encroach upon it and even grow up through the boards. Very few visitors seem to find it, though I did encounter a birdwatcher recently, and on another occasion a young couple shrieking with delight as they teased a frog with a dried reed. (The frog, apparently thinking the movement of the reed indicated food, kept jumping and trying to bite it)

Mapleknoll Marsh 2013


It is jam packed with frogs, who are extremely shy (with the possible exception of the reed-chasing frog). When I walk in, even  in slow motion, I rarely manage to catch sight of a frog; their presence is given away only by a series of splashes and eeks as they scramble out of sight. I’ve gotten a bit better at it, and this morning I spotted four from the boardwalk entryway.

Mapleknoll Frog1 May 2013 Mapleknoll frog2 May 2013

The ones I’ve seen so far are common northern green frogs, with their “banjo-plucking twang” of a call, though the voice of the bullfrog is also often heard. There are also many redwing blackbirds; when I was in three-year retreat I used to think they were calling “bur-gun-dy!”

At first I thought it was a pond, and was surprised to find it identified on a map of Bowdoin Park as a marsh. It looks like a pond, but apparently the masses of reeds growing in it are a sign that, technically speaking, it is not.

After 7 years in the New Hampshire woods before my three-year retreat, I’ve missed having a wild place to walk and spend time in. Now I walk to Mapleknoll Marsh whenever I can find time, and rest for a few minutes on a battered bench, reciting mani’s with the wildlife.


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