The North Quabbin area is often called The Accidental Wilderness. Greenwich, Enfield, Dana, and Prescott are four towns that were settled in the 1700s in the Swift River Valley. This area was chosen as a perfect area to flood to make a reservoir for Boston and outlying communities as they needed more water. The towns were leveled. People were moved out, trees cut, cemeteries moved, and railroad lines stopped running. There was a lot of heartache and memory that’s still left in the region. In the 1930s the work began. The Windsor dam is on the southern end, and the high hills are now islands. In 1946 the valley, now a huge lake, was considered filled.
You can now walk on roads that go right into the water, find small stone bridges, some roads that allow biking The Quabbin is part of a greater wildlife corridor that extends to the north. We often have strong familial ties to our neighbors and may have their house keys for emergencies. We celebrate each other’s successes, small and large, and we are like an extended family in many ways.
One place that celebrates this sense of extended family within a larger community is in Petersham. The Petersham Country Store is right on route 32, across from the town common.
Several times this season I’ve gone for lunch, meeting friends from Petersham. But when I’ve gone in, I’ve found five or six people from my own town, Warwick, having lunch there as well. It’s such a great spot for healthy, tasty food that it’s lunch we’re happy to drive 20 miles to have. There’s the added benefit that if we are feeling lazy or want to eat too many things, we can pick up prepared food from the refrigerated shelves to take home. We also know everything is made from scratch by people who are on the other side of the counter.
The last several times I’ve visited, I’ve seen a meeting of folks from Harvard Forest, another meeting of folks from a local land trust, a group of women hooking carpets, and meeting earlier in the morning, a weekly gathering of knitters. Folks leaving the local Buddhist retreat centers, five miles down the road in Barre, often stop here, too.
For many people, The Country Store is indeed a country store where you can pick up a great loaf of bread, food to go, regular grocery items, wine, and such. It’s also a place to find books by local authors, lovely cards, and unusual gifts. You can join the knitting group or rug hookers, or just pull a chair up close to the fir and enjoy a coffee on a cold day,
What supports you in your own community? Are there particular events your town holds that you look forward to? I’d love to hear from you about where you live, and what nurtures you.