There’s a Nor’easter blowing through here this weekend, but instead of being knee-deep in snow, all we’re getting is rain, which pretty much sums up this winter. There’s a certain irony here. Most years, this part of central New England gets snow when nobody else does. And we get more than anybody else. But not this year.

I took this picture of a Wood Duck box during a cold snap several weeks ago. The prolonged cold gave me a chance to explore a swamp that’s usually inaccessible. It’s in Gardner, Mass., in an area called High Ridge, a piece of state-owned land now administered by the state Dept. Fish & Wildlife.

When I was growing up, it used to be part of the grounds of a state mental hospital. Maybe it’s just knowing this, but I can’t help a feeling a sadness here. There are deserted roads leading nowhere, the landscaped grounds are gradually being reclaimed by nature, slowly becoming more wild. Part of the land is being used as a state prison. Another corner has a national veterans cemetery. It’s still a sad place.

Looking at the Wood Duck box, I wonder how long it’s been there, and does anybody come and check it? There are others around. They don’t look recent, though they’re still serviceable. I’ll try to get back, and see if there are any tenants later this spring.

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