I’ve been taking walks at Trustees of Reservations properties all summer long, so it seems appropriate to end the season with a post on one: Greenwood Farm in Ipswich, Massachusetts. I had never been to this saltmarsh farm before this spring, and I returned every other week. Last week was definitely my favorite time: there’s just something poignant about golden late summer, just before the appearance of any red. It’s not a huge reservation, but it is a well-situated one, overlooking the marshes and islands of Ipswich Bay. A perfect first-period house, the Paine House, sits right there along the its main path, with no driveway or modern conveniences in sight. There are venerable oak trees, and some recent additions: “Remembrance of Climate Futures” markers, indicating how and when the landscape will change. They were the only source of anxiety on my walks around Greenwood Farm.
Once again we must be grateful for the efforts of an old and wealthy New England family, the Dodges, who purchased the property in the early 20th century, were responsible stewards during their summer residence, and eventually donated the farm to the Trustees of Reservations in the 1970s. A larger, newer farmhouse built on the property by Thomas Greenwood in the early 19th century served as their principal summer house, and they used the 1694 Paine House as a well-appointed guest house. I’d love to go inside, but it’s never been open—in fact I have never seen a single person on this whole property on my walks this summer! Of course there is a Salem connection: Robert Paine, the first of six generations of farmers to live in the house was a jury foreman during the Salem Witch Trials. As you can see, the house is a touchstone for me as I walk around the farm, but I’ve also developed more appreciation for trees this summer, and solid land when I come across these jarring “remembrance” markers.
Appendix: I searched for an image of the Paine house among the works of Ipswich artist extraordinaire Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922), who mastered all genres—oils, woodblock prints, cyanotypes—and seemed dedicated to depicting every square inch of his native town (as well as being a very influential art educator), but found nothing. Many of his landscapes look like the farm, because saltmarsh farms ARE Ipswich. This little collaboration of Dow and the poet Everett Stanley Hubbard, which you can access here, is particularly evocative.