Day 608: Stork Reality

On the way to Leverett, Massachusetts, their next destination, Laetitia and her group went hiking and wildlife watching in Mount Holyoke Range State Park and Lawrence Swamp. The Mount Holyoke Range is a seven-mile ridge of rugged woodlands interspersed with streams, ponds, and wetlands. After hiking part of the ridge, the group hiked the portion of the 47-mile Robert Frost Trail that runs through Lawrence Swamp. They visited the Emily Dickenson House and Museum in Amherst before going to their final destination for the day.

Leverett is a town of about 2,000 residents. It’s small enough that young people are enticed away to seek their fortunes in cities, and everybody knows everyone else’s business. The bar gossip was about a local girl named Zoe who went off to work in Boston. While there, she went on a wild weekend in New York with a man from the Boston suburb of Everett. The trip’s unanticipated result was the source of the day’s limerick.

Young Zoe let a fellow from Everett
Do things that she wished she had never let
On a trip to New York
Now she’s expecting the stork
And raising eyebrows back home in Leverett.

Day 607: Belchertown

After leaving Ware, Laetitia and her group drove north around Quabbin Reservoir. It’s a man-made lake created in the 1930s by damming the Swift River. The project required that four towns and 6,000 graves be relocated. With 39 square miles of water surface, it’s the largest inland body of water in Massachusetts. Because it’s a reservoir, public access is limited. Vehicles are not allowed, but since Laetitia’s group was on foot, they were given permission to go on an extended hike. Given that the area does not receive heavy tourist traffic, they saw abundant wildlife, including Bald Eagles.

Belchertown, their destination for the evening, was settled in 1731. Previously it was called Belcher’s Town or Cold Spring. Though one might be inclined to think that the town’s name had something to do with releasing gas through the esophagus and mouth, it was more likely named after residents whose surname was Belcher. As is commonplace in English surnames after the Norman Conquest in 1066, this name is derived from Old French. It was likely Bel Cher, (Good Cheer) or Bel Sur (Good Sir).

The limerick of the day was derived from a joke overheard by Laetitia when she went to happy hour after dropping her guests at their hotel.

Old Oliver came to despair
‘Bout his habit of swallowing air
‘Til a Doc of renown
Said, “Try Belchertown
For you’ll have lots of company there.”

Day 606: Ware Chair

It isn’t far from Worcester to Ware, Massachusetts, so Laetitia headed southwest to Wells State Park, where the group went hiking through oak-hickory woodland trails bordered by metamorphic rock cliffs. Afterward they headed further southwest to Brimfield State Forest, where they rented horses and went on a trail ride. At happy hour in Ware, some gossip about a young couple and their foibles became the limerick of the day.

A young couple from over near Ware
Who made love standing up on a chair
Had a slip and a stumble
And an end-o’er-end tumble
As they rolled, slinky-like, down the stair.

Day 605: Worcester Rooster

In the morning, Laetitia and her group left Revere for Boston, where they visited Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, and the Old North Church. Some visitors from England who had joined Laetitia’s group pointed out that the church’s ring of eight bells were cast in Gloucester, England, in 1744 and are the oldest in North America. The bells are maintained and rung regularly by the Guild of Bellringers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the afternoon, the group headed west out of Boston in the direction of Worcester, Massachusetts, the destination they had chosen for the evening.

On the way to Worcester, they toured an organic farm that featured, among other things, Rhode Island Red chickens. Their guide had a story about a very aggressive rooster who was a fine specimen, but ended up being culled. It became the limerick of the day.

A cocky Rhode Island Red rooster
The pride of a farmer near Worcester
Caused his girlfriend alarm
When one day on the farm
As she was tying her shoe it goosed her.