Fast Breaks

Fast Breaks

We hardly need research—although it’s out there—to know that spending time in nature is good for us. In Hamden, I’ve found that source of goodness in unexpectedly convenient places, the kind you can pop into and out of while running errands.

On the Hamden Land Conservation Trust’s Servoss/Mather Kettle Property, trailheads near Dawes and Mather Streets or on nearby Servoss Street lead into the 2.18-acre preserve, where a brief trail—with an offshoot that dead-ends at a technically restricted Regional Water Authority area—curves around a glacial kettle formed about 16,500 years ago. When ice chunks left behind by glaciers melted, “the surrounding gravel collapsed into the void, forming undrained depressions called kettles,” according to HLCT signage. Each time I’ve walked this shady leafy trail, which feels more like being deep in a forest than in the middle of civilization, I’ve been the only person present, although painted rocks and figurines left at the roots of a tree offer evidence that others have been impacted by the site’s magical feeling.

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Another, shallower kettle, Johnson’s Pond, can be found in the Spring Glen neighborhood, where Thornton Street U-turns back toward Greenway Street. Again, a trail loops around the kettle, this one filled with water. Houses back up to three sides of the land surrounding the pond, with more RWA property along the fourth. As I walked along the shallow, mud-edged pond, redwing blackbirds, robins, frogs and backyard chickens warbled, croaked and clucked. A large fallen tree made the trail unsuitable for baby strollers or unspry walkers, but mountain laurel and wildflowers bloomed and a bench near what looked like a recently planted flower garden provided a welcome place to linger.

So does Timberwood Trail, on a narrow strip beginning near the intersection of Shepard Avenue and the road named Timberwood Trail. This short, roughly 440-foot path traveled through tall woods next to a literal babbling brook and ended at picturesque Wolcott Falls. Post-rain mosquitoes kept me moving, but on a sunny day wading and lingering on the rocks near the falls would be a perfect summer diversion.

Heading back toward New Haven, I stopped again in Spring Glen, this time near the entrance to the High Lane Club. Just over the border with North Haven, what looks like a pond is, according to a nearby resident, a “wide, slow part of a brook that passes through the neighborhood.” Standing on the sidewalk bordering one edge of the water, I watched tadpoles, frogs and turtles swim, saw other turtles sunning themselves on a fallen birch tree and admired yellow irises. Amid duckweed and the occasional stray tennis ball, loud frogsong sounded like plucked orchestral strings or a bowed cello. Other pedestrians and bicyclists stopped to enjoy the sound and the vision.

Next time I’m headed to Spring Glen Hardware or Best Video or Stop and Shop, I’ll know where to stop before I shop.

Written and photographed by Heather Jessen.

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