A frog, teal on top and bronze underneath, sat in the middle of the wooden walkway, unconcerned. I squatted down for a better look. Eventually, as I stepped past, the frog hopped off the board into shallow water, nestled between moss and roots. The air was humid and fragrant.
My pale feet in blue sandals sank into the cool, brownish water as some of the floating cedar planks bobbed up and down. Sunlight filtered through tall cedar trees. Mosses, mushrooms, and blueberry bushes surrounded the path. Two-thirds of the way along the bog walk, the trees opened up into a meadow, revealing a vast sky overhead. Short bushes and reddish-colored moss covered the ground. The bog ended at the edge of Ponkapoag Pond, a shallow lake filled with lily pads and dragonflies.
I didn’t think a bog would be beautiful until I visited. Beyond physical beauty, wetlands have an impressively practical effect on our ecosystem, filtering mercury and other pollutants out of the estuary and providing habitat for rare plants and animals. Many Atlantic white cedar bogs were logged and converted into cranberry bogs. Today, bog restoration efforts involve replanting cedar trees and conserving the land.
Stepping into the water reminds me I am an active part of the landscape. I see myself while I observe creatures and plants as they are. I am on the land of the Massachusett and Wampanoag people, one of the earliest places in North America that European settlers landed, a place shaped by generations of logging and industry and change. This land is not my home, generationally, but it is my home right now. I believe we can restore habitats to heal the places where we live.