The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 10, 2010


Unhappy trails ahead for Great Brook skiers?

Have you ever tried to cross-country ski on trails that have been shared with walkers? For this skier it just doesn’t work. As someone who lives on Estabrook Road and who skied for many years with her family in the Estabrook Woods, it was important to get out there as soon as possible after a snowstorm, before a neighbor walked his dog on the trails.

Earlier in the fall, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) announced their proposed mixed-use trail policy for the upcoming ski season at Great Brook Farm State Park. This policy change, which would allow walkers and skiers to share certain trails in the park, has brought about an outcry of concerns from the community.

Carlisle has been blessed to have the Great Brook Farm Ski Touring Center run by Stuart Johnstone for the past 22 years. Half of the 20 miles of trails are preserved for paid cross-country skiing which takes place during usable ski conditions, usually between December 1 and March 21. In the past, non-skiers were asked to stay off trails that have been groomed for skiing. This year, since the controversy over walkers and skiers using the same groomed trails erupted, Johnstone has yet to receive permission to open for the season. This is a facility we should also keep available for Concord-Carlisle and Westford high school cross-country ski teams, to practice and hold competitions, as well as a popular place to ski for Carlisle, Concord and Chelmsford residents.

Luckily, State Representative Cory Atkins, after receiving concerns about this change in policy, announced this week that the DCR has agreed to hold a public forum to gather more information and feedback on the proposed mixed-use trail policy. No date has been set for the forum, but the DCR hopes to schedule one before Christmas. If using groomed snow trails with non-skiers is a concern of yours, contact your state representatives [Cory Atkins, 617-7222-2692,; and Susan Fargo, 617-722-1572,] and make an effort to attend this forum.

(See also, article on page 4 and “Changes coming to Great Brook Ski Center,” November 19).

How a Christmas tree works

It is December, and therefore we have moved our television out of our lounge to put the Christmas tree in its place. That should take care of the Wikileaks and Congress’s posturing over tax cut extensions, at least in sound/video-byte form. Of late, this removal of the television during the holiday season has become our custom, and it has the interesting effect of opening up hours of video-free activity: part one of a two-part formula for recharging during the holidays. So, out goes the television to a room in the house where access to it is less convenient. I can still watch the classic Christmas movies, old movies in general, and Masterpiece Theater for which I am a shameless sucker, but it takes a little more effort to get to the TV. Hauling the Christmas tree into its place creates a naked reminder that this is the season to decorate. It is easy to feel cozy and joyful when hanging cheerful lights and sparkling baubles on a pungently scented fir tree.

Feeling comfort and joy and exerting some serious control over the remote and the flat screen makes it easier to really start enjoying the season. Being able to look at and smell a Christmas tree lifts my spirits and makes me think more optimistically. The absence of the television allows time to examine the year’s accomplishments and failures, and to make some pragmatic resolutions. Quietly, and in glorious no-tech. At first, I experience a sort of rattling sensation: that is all that distraction ebbing away into a peace and silence I can actually hear and feel. It’s a little scary at first, but it’s a short detoxification, and then it feels like a deep, clean breath.

There’s part one done. Now for part two: take stock and boost resolve. It has been a year of challenges and more challenges lie ahead. I am hunting for a job that will stimulate me as well as provide confidence-building remuneration. (Ouch! But when I look at that tree, I know it’s out there somewhere.) I need to be able to care for my family and friends and help them deal with their challenges, if I can. (Smell that tree, and all things are possible.) On a lighter note (hopefully much lighter), I must drop some serious avoir du pois so that my poor son won’t look as if he were spawned by Shamu when he walks down the aisle at his wedding next May. (Trickier, because the tree is associated with all that holiday food, but a tree doesn’t encourage snacking the way sitting in front of a television does.) There is more to do, of course, but to address any challenges I must better prioritize my activities. (Got that tree decorated, didn’t I?) And, I need to show my technologies who’s boss. (It can be done: there stands the tree to prove it.)

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