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December 6, 2013

A family paddle

Exploring a hidden gem: Amesbury's Meadowbrook Islands

As winter begins, our North Shore waterways are slowing and becoming shallow as they do — it’s fascinating and beautiful to watch.

Taking advantage of an unusually mild day offering bright sun and a gentle breeze from the southwest, my wife and I brought our boys on a canoeing trip to Amesbury’s Meadowbrook Islands. It was a gorgeous place where we enjoyed an excellent afternoon of paddling, splashing and learning. One made even better by a family picnic on an island all to ourselves.

Our adventure on Meadowbrook Pond proved perfect for reinforcing to the kids just how dynamic our local lakes and rivers really are. The pond sits in the northwest corner of Amesbury, and at just over a mile long, it’s an integral part of the city’s vast network of waterways that ultimately drain to the Merrimack River. Featuring loads of wildlife, mostly undeveloped shores and three beautifully untouched islands, it’s a true hidden gem.

We launched our canoes off Birchmeadow Road near the dam that separates Meadowbrook Pond from the larger Lake Attitash. Offering the kids a chance to do it themselves, we watched as they pushed, pulled and heaved the boats successfully toward the shore. After just a few minutes (and some help from Dad), they had done it and we were on our way. The water was nearly flat and reflected muted colors from the nearby icy shore. Crisp oak leaves floated around us like paper boats; starlings flew overhead and into bare trees; and nearby ducks cautiously swam away from our excited, noisy boys.

Paddling toward the islands, we made our way over a few remaining water lilies, floating yellow and lifelessly on the surface. We talked of frogs, hibernation and how everything in nature seems to know the schedule of everything else and how it all works out great. Next spring, the lilies and the frogs will wake up together, and it’s really pretty cool.

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