Last week’s posting hit the Photo Challenge sweet spot.
It was indeed a challenge. Most guesses were wrong (and all over the Westport map). A few were right.
It impelled readers to provide thoughts on the back story too. Along the way, we traveled back in (and learned about) our town’s history.
Frank Rosen’s image of an abandoned brick and rock structure deep in some woods was not taken at Baron’s South, Nash’s Pond, Post Road West near Kings Highway South, or either the Evergreen Avenue, Willowbrook or Wilton Road/Kings Highway cemetery.
The correct answer: Newman Poses Preserve off Bayberry Lane. Specifically, it’s past a dilapidated bridge, near the river. (Click here to see.)
Was it an ice house? A cow tunnel? Something to do with an onion farm?
We still don’t know.
But we do know that Janis Wasserman and Kathie Bennewitz both correctly identified whatever it is correctly. They know their open spaces!
This week’s Photo Challenge was taken last month, during our only snowfall this winter.
If you know where in Westport you’d see this sad, ineffective fence, click “Comments” below.
Whenever I post a photo of a bucolic, water-rippling-over-boulders, looks-like-Vermont-but-it’s-actually-Westport shot, the default response is: the Saugatuck, River, at Ford Road.
Sure, that’s one of Westport’s most beautiful, underrated spots.
But it’s not the only one.
Last week’s Photo Challenge showed a scene that readers thought was Ford Road. (Click here to see.) In fact, it was Newman Poses Preserve. The river is the Aspetuck.
Leigh Gage was first with the correct answer. Seth Schachter, Jonathan McClure and Alice Ely followed soon.
This hidden gem — located off Bayberry Lane and Easton Road — is the only public memorial approved by the family of the late Paul Newman as a way to honor the actor/philanthropist/race car driver/popcorn and salad dressing king. He lived nearby, and donated much of the land for the preserve.
The parcel also includes land sold to the town by Lillian Poses, a neighbor and friend of the Newmans. She worked on the New Deal in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, and was one of the first female graduates of NYU Law School.
Newman Poses Preserve is managed by the Aspetuck Land Trust. For more information, click here.
This week’s Photo Challenge is also wonderfully scenic. If you know where in Westport you’d see this — and everyone here has — click “Comments” below.
Scott Smith is an alert “06880” reader, a longtime Westporter and an ardent outdoorsman. He writes:
If you ask Westporters to comment on our community’s natural charms, chances are most would cite the dazzling string of beaches and coastal places: Compo Beach, Sherwood Mill Pond, Gray’s Creek and Burying Hill. If pressed, they might claims Sherwood Island too.
Others would tout the Saugatuck River, from the fly fishing shallows along Ford Road to the impoundment of Lees Pond, and the tidal stretch through town leading to the mouth at Longshore and Cedar Point. Cockenoe Island gets a shout-out, too, especially from those with the nautical means to visit it.
Fishing off Ford Road (Photo/Richard Wiese)
But plenty of other places across Westport beguile with bucolic beauty. Many of these underappreciated open spaces are in the midst of a welcome renaissance, sparked by renovation efforts from those who love and tend them.
I’m talking about the town parks, preserves, land trusts and wildlife sanctuaries that constitute our remaining inland open spaces. Over the past year or two, I’ve visited quite a few. I always come away thinking how fortunate we are to be able to trod upon them.
“06880” has covered these developments over time, noting singular efforts and improvements. But if you step back and tally them all up, it’s quite an impressive list, covering virtually every part of town.
Over in Old Hill there’s the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum. I toured it a couple of seasons ago with its caretakers, including Lou Mall and tree warden Bruce Lindsay. They’re spearheading its transformation from an untended patch of blow-downs and invasive vines to a fetching enhancement to the adjacent Earthplace facility.
Dead creepers line a Wadswworth Arboretum trail.
Coleytown has the Newman Poses Preserve, which affords a wonderful walk through meadows along the Saugatuck stream and through upland woods. Having the memory of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and their family as you traipse along is a nice bonus. Their neighbors — and the Aspetuck Land Trust — get credit for giving us that open space.
Right near downtown there’s the blossoming of long-neglected Baron’s South, another town-led reclamation project with even brighter prospects in store as a nature-driven arts campus.
A path in Baron’s South. (Photo/Judy James)
And just down Compo, off Greenacre Road, is the hidden gem of the Haskins Preserve, my longtime favorite place for a weekend stroll.
Haskins Preserve’s dogwoods and daffodils — a lovely combination.
I have “06680” to thank for cluing me in to my newest place to take a hike: the Smith Richardson Preserve in Greens Farms. I’ve long known about the 2 parcels north of I-95. The Christmas tree farm off Sasco Creek Road is where I chop down a tree every year. I consider it in part my annual donation to the Connecticut Audubon Society, which manages the farm and the open space across the road.
But I had no idea of the separate property just across 95, a 36-acre parcel stretching from Sasco Creek all the way to the playing fields behind Greens Farms Academy off Beachside Avenue.
I walked it the other day, taking advantage of frozen ground to course through fields that are in the midst of being cleared of smothering vines and other invasive species.
It’s an impressive project, even if the space is hard by the highway and Metro-North rails. Hemmed in by neighboring houses big and small, and what looks to be a refuse depot managed by the railroad or state, the area has the look of a pocket-size Central Park in the making, with Olmstedian trails that wind through woods, and alongside meadows and ponds. I can’t wait to see how the property develops, with its ambitious new plantings and clearings, and whether the caretaking crews can keep the tick-haven invasives at bay.
Smith Richardson Preserve (Photo/Scott Smith)
These public/private corners of our community are all discovered places, at least for me. When I visit them, either with my dog or solo, I’m often the only one around. I like the solitude, and question why I’d even want to spread the word about them. Parking is often a pinch, and I’m not even sure about the proper access to the new Smith Richardson preserve behind GFA’s sprawling athletic fields.
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