One of the old cellar holes at the Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary

Mass. Audubon’s Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary in Fitchburg is made up of several hundred acres laced with stonewalls and trails. It can feel remote and distant, but it’s less than a mile from downtown.

It’s hard to imagine that these boulder-strewn woods were one of the earliest parts of the city to be settled. Go wandering around off-trail and you’re bound to come across the stonework of an old cellar hole. The one pictured above is just a hundred yards or so from Overlook Reservoir. There is a network of walls forming smaller enclosures that may have been livestock pens. Another square may have been the foundation of a barn.

The ruts of old wagon roads cross here. It must have been a busy place once. Quiet now, except for distant traffic sounds.

After taking a few pictures, I put my camera back in its case and continued on my way back to the trail. And wouldn’t you know it, a fisher crossed my path just a few yards ahead of me. Black fur, very much like a large cat. It moved quickly, furtively, but not panicked. It paused, looked at me over its shoulder, and moved on.

I tried to get my camera out again, but the fisher was gone as quickly as it had appeared. Isn’t that always the way?