Looking Back

This blog features poems by a native New Englander and octogenarian, as he looks back on the stomping grounds of his youth -- Chaffee's Woods, Kent Heights, Beach Pond, Escoheag, Wood River -- and his army days in Europe towards the end of WWII.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chaffee's Woods

When I was young, a boy of ten
I often walked along with Dad
And sometimes our whole family
Up the road and cross the fields
Until we crossed Pawtucket Ave.
We’d open up the oaken gates
Then head on down the old cow lane
With its stone walls on either side.

We’d pass that giant cherry tree
And always stopped when fruit was ripe
And each time found, though beautiful,
Those cherries were so very sour.
We’d see a killdeer near her eggs
Out in the open, on the ground
And when we neared, she’d always go
Into her broken wing decoy.

But we would just continue on
Down the cow lane, toward the pond
Passing shrubs and tufts of grass
Where all the cows had fed “en masse”
Leaving cow flops we’d try to dodge,
But weren’t successful all the time
And often had to clean our shoes
With grass and leaves or with a stick.

We’d often sit on that huge rock,
The one that overlooks the pond,
And watch the silvery dragonflies
That flew erratic paths among
The lily pads and weeds that grew
Around the pond, and pollywogs,
So newly hatched and with long tails
Would always stay just out of reach.

But often we would simply hunt
For fossils found by splitting rocks.
We oft’ uncovered ancient ferns
And sometimes found a trilobite,
But never did we fail to find
Some type of fossil, for those rocks
Were just as full as they could be
Of ancient fossils, we could see.

And ‘round us were so many trees
That held my father’s interest
And often I would join with him
In looking over types of wood.
We’d look at ash and maple too,
Along with hornbeam of both types,
Wood he could turn upon his lathe
To make good handles for his tools.

And when our rest upon the rock
Was done, and we would travel on
Across the brook and thru the trees
'Til we came to the lower fields
And if we had our bows with us
We’d shoot blunt arrows made by me
At sugar bags just stuffed with hay.

And after shooting 'til we tired
We’d walk out to the traveled way
Then up the road until we reached
Old Chaffee’s store, where we would stop
And all would have a soda pop
Before we started off for home,
Justly tired from our long walk, thru
The lanes and fields of Chaffee’s Woods.

But often on a Sunday morn
When others headed off for church
My dad and I would take a walk
And down to Chaffee’s Woods we’d go
To sit upon the rock that looked
Out over Chaffee’s pond. Dad would
Read the bible then expound on
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And that is when I first did learn
Those facts about our Lord the Christ,
The facts that I would seldom get
In church at Haven Methodist.
I often thought about Dad's words
And what the bible said were true
And then I met with those who taught
The same as Dad had taught to me.

I still have memories of those days
The walks we took through fields and woods
Where we would sit upon the rock
To watch the birds and dragonflies.
I often wondered if my Dad
Loved those walks as much as I.
Though he’s been gone these many years
We’ll be united sometime soon.

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