WOODS TO WRITING DESK: A fishermen's field

·3 min read

Sep. 24—I have never seen a seine boat race.

There I said it! The truth is out, my cards are all out on the table and I sit here writing a confession with the hope that you the reader might understand that this traveler from across the bridge still has a lot to learn about this beautiful island.

Growing up down the line was great but lacked the camaraderie of boat races, the smells of homemade pasta (sorry mom), and the significance of running across a telephone pole.

But from what I have heard, it is all integral to what makes Gloucester.

The camaraderie, the fierce competition, the battle against the raging waves and ever-pressing current ... put me in coach!

While this explorer will have to wait for next year's St. Peter's Fiesta (fingers crossed) to view the race from shore, who said we can't explore Seine Field?

Located near Eastern Point on Farrington Avenue, the wide open space is lovingly hugged by brush and bramble with just a few narrow paths from which to enter and exit. This unique gem's hidden treasure is a gravel pathway that rings around the open field so that it might be accessible by foot or wheels (not cars).

Explorers can choose to either stick to the gravel pathway or meander down a number of trails that twist and turn under low-lying tree branches and showcase some beautiful wildflowers that call this grassland home.

According to Essex County Greenbelt, Seine Field is a "rare New England habitat type known as an 'Open Heathland' or 'Relic Sandplain Grassland,' characterized by arid, sandy soil and a landscape of low vegetative growth. It occurs primarily near the coast on flat plains consisting of glacial outwash."

Throughout most of the 20th century, fishermen would come to the reservation to lay out their seine nets on the field for repair and drying. Today, if you pick the right time, you might even catch a fisherman keeping this tradition alive.

Long before the fishermen came, however, this field was known to be the harvesting spot for indigenous people known as the Pawtucket who would pick blueberries, gooseberries, wild strawberries, and the Concord wild grapes.

Bayberry leaves were also harvested from this area to flavor their meat stews, while shamans used the berries and bark to make medicines.

A fun fact that might intrigue birders is that this property has been an important habitat for native and migrating birds. If you happen to explore this property, you might be able to spot American Kestrels, Northern Harriers, swallowtails, fritillaries, short-eared owls, and maybe even a coyote, red fox or other field mammals.

In 1992, the Lynch family donated the field to Greenbelt — a plot of land that has served as a habitat for a variety of wildlife and useful to the fishermen who need a place to lay their nets.

* And let's not forget: a place for dogsto run, too.

* Don't forget to pick up your dogs poo.

Want to suggest your favorite trail for review? Let staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford know. While carrier pigeon is her preferred mode of communication, she can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting