Few recognize the prize that is our own Mount Hood

... guests invited to new introduction to "The Hood"

from Don Norris

What is the most unappreciated attribute in Melrose?

How many of our 27,000 souls take advantage of the lovely forests in and around town?

And can you count the number of parks -- huge parks, big parks, middle-sized and itsy-bitsy parks, that are available to to us -- the lucky souls that reside in Melrose? The count is in the forties.

And where there is no zoo, where can you spot deer, fox, coyotes, beavers, and a multitude of animal and bird life with two miles of your home?

There was a small party held last week -- the last week of October -- for the singular purpose of showing off this pleasant place. Sponsored by the Park Department and the Mount Hood Association, it was the first of several proposed welcoming parties in town. Specifically, as an initial act for a continuing show, Myron Dittmer -- president of the Melrose Park Department -- invited all seniors to a special party, a party that highlighted Mount Hood's 225 acres of woodlands, fairways, paths through the woods, three (no, four) kettle ponds that teem with both fish and water lillies.

The point is, Mr Dittmer and his committee of Melrose residents, felt that 'the Hood' was not getting the recognition it deserves. They concluded that there are probably lots of residents who just may NOT have been to the park, taken advantage of its wild places, its golf course, walking paths through the woods, it's four-story stone tower from which mountains in three states are visable ...

And so the committe devised a plan to make Mount Hood and its woodlands a place to go, a place that Melrose folks can enjoy flowers and fauna, walk the dog, spot the wildlife, identify seldom-seen birds -- and basically enjoy a walk through the woods.

First guests for this organized plan  was to be seniors. A trial flight, so to speak, to see the reaction of the public, to an hour of animated lecture, a brief but delightful lunch, and then a tour (in the Seniors van) to the Slayton Tower itself. It was the perfect day for it, with ample sunshine and copious drifting white clouds.

The only problem encountered that Tuesday was lack of time to spread the word, so that this initial program was populated by some twenty-five souls. Nevertheless, it was a howling success, although only half the delicious sandwiches for lunch were consumed. The program anticiapted maybe 50 or 75 guests, but the spur-of-the-moment production happened too fast for the word to get around.

According to Mr. Dittmer, the program will continue through times of good weather. The program is for the long range, a decision that had the endorsement of the first 25 guests.

The program that day, conducted in the center hall of the clubhouse, centered on wildlife that abounds in the park. Speaker Dana Jewell told of the inordinate number of bird species that live in the forests -- or pass through during migrations. Among those in the audience was Michael Ryan, the Melrosian who is fighting development of Fellsland by commercial interests.
At one point, Mr. Jewell spoke of the early morning, not too long ago, that, while bird-watching, he came across four young buck deer wading in a secluded vernal pond at the Hood. It was an amazing sight, for we are a mere five miles from downtown Boston. (The photo he took that morning appeared in the next issue of The Mirror.)

A schedule of future programs is not available yet, but judging from the reaction of those seniors at the first meeting -- there will be many more such gatherings.

Photos of the day follow:

Park association president Myron Dittmer.

Dana Jewell, trudging up those 56 steps.

... and giving the talk on wildlife, birds and people at the The Hood.

Stringer Flo Shea (in red) and friend, from 50 feet up.

November 1, 2013

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