, Newburyport, MA


December 6, 2013

A family paddle

Exploring a hidden gem: Amesbury's Meadowbrook Islands


Paddling back from the islands, fish darted and rippled the cold water ahead of us. Herons soared gracefully nearby while cawing out loudly an equally ungraceful noise. There was still signs of life all around. The water was lower, darker and considerably colder. Soon, it will be completely iced over, but soon, too, it will be filled to the brim with midsummer water lilies, frogs and darting dragonflies.

Getting out onto the water in late fall or early winter offers firsthand experience of the beauty and cyclicity of our seasons. The calendar tells us that we are at the end of the year, but a short trip out with my boys showed them it is just another part of the cycle — Meadowbrook Pond is already busy prepping for spring. Should another unseasonably warm day come our way, we’ll be sure to take advantage.


Justin Chase is an avid naturalist who lives in Amesbury and grew up in Newburyport. He is the author of the blog Outdoors, By Cracky! Visit his website at or contact him via email at

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