By SVT Office Assistant Ellie Johnson
When a travel writer features an “undiscovered” treasure of a location, I am always of two minds:  delighted to learn about the place, but distressed at its being revealed to the world.  How long will it remain unspoiled?
Something of the same feeling surrounds my writing about the Greenways Conservation Area, in the heart of Wayland.  Although calling this property “undiscovered” is probably an exaggeration, it had that feel on a recent visit.  On a lovely warm summer afternoon, a friend and I decided to explore Greenways.   Ours was the only car when we pulled into the small parking area, although as we were preparing to set out on the trail, a man drove up and unloaded his golden retriever, which we later saw down by the river.  The initial trail was wide and flat, winding through a piney woods, and as we strolled, was strikingly free of any man-made sounds, not even the distant drone of a plane.  We headed towards the riverbank shown on our map, crossing a wide expanse of beautiful field, and climbing a small slope to the top, where a steep bank plunged down to the river.  Looking down upon a small beach, we watched the golden happily swimming out into the river and back, retrieving a stick thrown by its owner.
Retracing our steps, we stood at the top of the small slope, regarding the expanse of field, ringed by trees on the far edges, and imagined ourselves in some remote area of New England, or in a long-past time -- easy to do with no signs or sounds of human habitation in evidence.  We then followed a path that cut across the center of the field.  Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod (early this year?), red clover, black-eyed Susans, and the occasional stand of milkweed graced the landscape.  Bumblebees tumbled around in the milkweed.  My friend mentioned that milkweed attracts monarch butterflies, and just as she said this, a beautiful monarch fluttered up around us as if in confirmation
Along the way we chatted with one of the few other people we encountered, a woman with another dog, an exuberant “puppy” of about 25 pounds.  Later, the puppy and another big dog joined the golden retriever frolicking at the waterside, along with a canoeist who had pulled up to the small beach.
There are several trail loops on the property, through wooded areas, along the river, and across fields.  As we traversed our final leg of the trail we had chosen, bordering the edge of the property and leading back to the parking lot, we came upon a poignant little graveyard:  about 25 small markers set in a semi-circle, engraved with the names of beloved dogs with touching epitaphs for each.  Whose precious pets had these been?  A more peaceful resting place couldn’t have been found for them.
Plunging through the final leg of the trail, an almost jungle-like thicket with wooden planks laid above a swampy area, vines wrapping around our legs, we were feeling like intrepid explorers, until a sudden break in the bushes propelled us into the parking lot, and an abrupt return to civilization.  
What a wonderful escape for a mid-summer afternoon!