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Sara Ross, Amherst

Kestrel Land Trust is older than me, but not by much. We’ve been aging gracefully together. I grew up in the Pioneer Valley and many of Kestrel’s properties were familiar friends. Strolling along the Amethyst Brook, swimming at Puffer’s Pond, and enjoying a sunset at Mt. Pollux are all airy threads of green and gold running through my childhood memories. The land stayed while I left.

Returning years later, I’m revisiting these places, but now with my children. I know the subtle power of those memories in me; I know I’m seeding in them another harvest of wonderment and connection with the land. But there are also new discoveries only available to the middle-aged version of me. Quiet walks at Wentworth Farm with the dog who became mine when my father passed away this past spring. The bobcat I surprised on an early morning run at Well Away Farm while the kids Zoomed for school. Looking ahead there are parts of life, previously somewhat predictable and familiar, that have fallen unexpectedly out of focus. There is energy in the change but it is unsettling in its magnitude. It often feels like too much. In those moments, I close my eyes and know that a carefully constructed loop at the Conte Wildlife Refuge is there for me.

Photo: My kids at the Katherine Cole Conservation Area in Amherst.

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