Friday, October 15, 2010

Beauty at Borderland, Beach Chair Makeover, and Upcoming Halloween Treat at Maudslay

Charms Collaborative group at the entrance of the Ames Mansion.
If you haven't been to Borderland State Park, it is well worth an autumn outing! Located on the border of N. Easton and Sharon, Massachusetts, this former estate south of Boston offers miles of forested carriage roads and trails, six ponds, glacial outcroppings, an unusual mansion, and a fascinating slice of history. Oakes and Blanche Ames were both from prominent Boston families and devoted to the outdoors. He was a professor of botany at Harvard; she was an artist, feminist, author and inventor who designed their unique stone home, now 100 years old. Both had numerous civic involvements, and together they collaborated on a lifelong study of orchids, which are one of the most thoroughly documented plant families thanks to their efforts.

I visited the park yesterday as part of a Universal Access Program outing facilitated by Brenda Davies of Stavros Outdoor Access with her usual bright spirit. A local special ed high school group came to tour the mansion and take a hike. The energy and engagement of this class of students with learning and behavioral disabilities from the Charms Collaborative was delightful! They had done some advance study about the Ames and their estate and had plenty of questions for park supervisor Ellenor Yahrmarkt, who led us on a tour of the first floor of the three story mansion.

The entryway to the mansion is almost level, with one small lip into the front room addressed with a wooden ramp, which may require a boost for some wheelchair users to overcome the subtle hump at the base of the ramp. Inside, we visited the kitchen, butler's pantry, dining room and two story library with 6000 books and a dragon sculpture. It smelled a bit musty, but the homey grandeur of the place is wonderfully preserved with all the original furnishings intact.

Back outside, the students reveled in a beautiful fall day with both sun and clouds as they hiked 3 1/2 miles, ate a trail lunch, searched for letterboxes and enjoyed the outdoors. Instead of hiking with them as I might usually do, I gave the park's beach wheelchair a make-over for trail use. Anyone who finds those bright yellow all-terrain chairs (typically used for beaches) visually daunting when used in the woods might like to try this one at Borderland now!

Other programs at Borderland this fall include another mansion tour on Sunday, October 17, a Coyote program November 7, and astronomy nights on October 17 and November 14. Call Ellenor at 508-238-6566 to find out more! She'll be happy to answer your questions about accessibility before you arrive.

There is one more Universal Access Program outing with Brenda this season! On Saturday, October 23, she will be leading a stroll at Maudslay State Park in Newburyport in conjunction with a special Halloween event at the park. Enjoy a picnic lunch, then explore the grounds of this other former estate and visit various outdoor theater performances celebrating everyone's favorite spooky holiday. To find out more and register, call Brenda at 413-259-0009. My only regret is that I won't have made over the "beach" wheelchairs at that park before you go!


cj's Mom said...

Great Blog! Love the outdoors too! We live on the North Shore in Beverly Ma. Thanks for some great places to go to!

My son has a blog about his story.

Nice to meet you!
Lisa Cj's Mom

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Beach Chair said...

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