The Year in Review
One bright morning in October, I had some free time and decided to treat myself to a leisurely walk around Fresh Pond. What followed was two hours of total enchantment: autumn was on display in all its splendor. All around the Reservation, red, yellow and orange-leaved trees seemed to glow with light from within. The sky hosted a parade of puffy white clouds. Billows of white wood asters illuminated the woods, bushes were laden with red and purple berries, the meadows were burgeoning with flowers and seeds. Again and again I thought to myself, “This is so beautiful!” I don’t often find myself overwhelmed as I was that day, but I do always find beauty when I visit the Reservation. It could be something as small as the sight of a delicate spring wildflower or as transformative as a major snowstorm. Pond-walkers who stop to chat with me often say that they, too, are moved by the beauty of the Reservation, especially the results of the extensive landscape restoration work that has taken place in the last decade. This is a very special place for many people.
As the Reservation has become an increasingly popular destination, there is a continuing need to educate people not only about appropriate behavior while visiting, but also about the Reservation itself: the living things that reside here, the geology, the history, and the Reservation’s function as the city reservoir. The principal role of the Friends group since its inception in 2002 has been to help visitors learn about all of these aspects of the Reservation. Our programs are designed to deepen and strengthen people’s connection to the natural world by offering free hands-on, nature-based learning experiences and opportunities to contribute as volunteer stewards. This year our programs have included fourteen bird walks as well as winter tree, wildflower, herbal plant, and fungi identification programs. Our reading group met five times, for potluck suppers and lively discussions about the nature-related books we read.
This year, it became clear to me that, after fourteen years as coordinator of the Friends group, it was time to turn over that role to someone new. I felt the group needed new ideas and new energy in order to remain dynamic, and I wanted to pursue other interests. With that in mind, the members of the FFPR Planning Committee decided to change the structure of the group. We ended paid memberships, thereby relieving us from the burdensome job of membership mailings and record keeping. The Cambridge Water Department took over the job of printing monthly publicity fliers, combining their programs with ours. We, in turn, agreed to continue to send monthly digital announcements of all the programs to our large number of email recipients. The Friends group will continue to offer free programs for the public, as we have done for the past 14 years.
In February we described these changes to our members and invited those who wished, to make a donation in lieu of membership dues. We were deeply touched by the response: eighty nine members sent donations totaling $4070, enough to cover our operating expenses for several years.
It was our good fortune this summer that Catherine Pedemonti learned we were looking for a new coordinator. She is especially well qualified to lead a group such as this: She is pursuing a certificate in field botany from New England Wild Flower Society, she has been a member of the Cambridge Conservation Commission, she has a degree in landscape design, and she was a project manager for the Emerald Necklace Conservancy in Boston. She has worked as a childcare provider with a focus on nurturing a love of the outdoors, and is currently a preschool teacher at the Drumlin Farm Community Preschool. She also has advanced computer skills, and, as a bonus, speaks three languages! In November, Catherine became our new coordinator.
I am especially grateful to have worked since 2007 with the exceptional group of women on the FFPR Planning Committee. They have done many of the essential jobs of running the organization. Their support and wise counsel have helped keep the focus on the group’s mission, and helped me with difficult decisions. In addition, I feel privileged to have worked with all of the Water Department’s volunteer outreach interns: Hannah Wilbur, Emily Tansey, Deb Albenberg, Kirsten Lindquist, Julie Coffey, and, currently, Martine Wong. These young women have done a tremendous job for the CWD in developing educational programs, conducting scientific studies, and creating a vibrant stewardship program whose volunteers have routed invasive weeds from our woods and meadows.
Although this is my last Year in Review report, it does not mark the end of my commitment to the Friends group or to Fresh Pond Reservation. I look forward to being a member of the Planning Committee, to maintaining our website at friendsoffreshpond.org, and to spending as much time as possible volunteering outside and walking around the Reservation appreciating this beautiful place.
December 31, 2015
Members of the FFPR Planning Committee: Susan Agger, Suzanna Black, Julie Coffey, Susan Coolidge (retired in 2015), Janet Kovner (retired in 2015), Nancy Haslett, Kirsten Lindquist (retired in 2015), Betsy Meyer, Catherine Pedemonti, Rebecca Ramsay, Carol Benoit Reynolds, Martine Wong, and Elizabeth Wylde
Fresh Pond Reading Group Moderator: Lance Drane
2015 Woodland Habitat Project Volunteers: Suzanna Black, Richard Bosel, Elisabeth Cianciola, Susan Coolidge, Pamela Hart, Sue Kim, Betsy Meyer, Rebecca Ramsay, Sarah Tuttle, Elizabeth Wylde, Candace Young
Photographers: Jim Koll, Elizabeth Wylde
Cambridge Water Department Staff: Julie Coffey, Ed Dowling, Dave Kaplan,
Tim MacDonald, Krystyna McNally, Jean Rogers, Martine Wong
Other Professionals: Lawrence Millman (mycology), Steph Zabel (Herbal Plants)
Bird walk Leaders: Nancy Guppy, Chris McKay, Herb Pearce
Folks who helped in other ways: Susan Agger (Maynard Ecology Center Coordinator), Sue Bowdridge (Neville Place Activities Director), Vince Falcione (CWD), Brian Mulrenan (CWD), all the workers from Schumacher landscaping