Ashumet Holly Wildlife Sanctuary

A humid little breeze was wandering in the windows when I woke up very late in the morning…

My Mylie was dozing on the couch with the puppy and it was wavering between bright sun and threatening rain, and I wanted the forest very much, to shake off the grogginess and to wander for a little while.

The GPS took us first to a little farm, then to a country club, then finally Mylie was able to convince it to bring us to where Google had recommended; a wildlife sanctuary nearby managed by the Audubon Society and teeming with birds and rhododendrons and promising a pond with lilypads and dragonflies. I caught one glimpse online of an upended log shaped very similarly to a T-Rex and knew right away it was where I wanted most to spend the afternoon.

The sun had decided to really shine when we arrived, and there were poppies waving lazily underneath a wide-armed and welcoming tree.


While I was photographing them, Mylie snuck away and tried to hide in an overgrown thicket, but I caught a glimpse of him coming around the corner and waited chuckling until he realized I was looking at him.

At the entrance there was an old barn that someone had considerately closed the entries off to, to allow the barn swallows the freedom to have the run of the place undisturbed. It made me think of a barn nearby at home in Vermont where you could climb into the hayloft and if you were very still and sat on the dusty floor, the swallows would throng around you unperturbed and come and go through the open windows.

We found the T-Rex tree right away!

We found the T-Rex tree right away!


The trails wound for miles past the pond, through meadows teeming with milkweed and wild strawberries and bird boxes for the happy swallows and orioles, and we could easily have gotten lost on all the winding paths that led deeper and deeper into different environments. I wanted to stay forever and see where each little path led, especially ones that said ‘Mystery Tree Trail’ and the tiny one winding around the pond that promised kingfishers and river otters on the right days.


On the Cape, even the ponds and lakes smell like saltwater, reminding me even in forests similar to the ones in Vermont, that the ocean rules the landscape here, and every hidden marsh or tall tree is mingling with it. We found the dragonflies resting on fallen hardwood, all in looping circles borrowing the heat of the noon sun until our footsteps fell too loud and they scattered around our heads.

We didn't catch a glimpse of any river otters, but Mylie told me a sweet story about how when he was younger, his Papa would give him buckets to catch bullfrogs at a golf course and Mylie would bring them all home to where he lived on Shallow Pond and put them in there. One of his close friends parents who still lives on Shallow Pond always says ‘I don’t know what happened, there didn’t used to be bullfrogs in this pond’ (because he doesn’t like how loud they are at night), without realizing it was actually Mylie who had put them in there and caused their population boom.


We liked very much the ferns lining the paths because they were so spindly and tall, and we found out using an app on my phone that they’re called Northern Brackenferns, which sounds very official, and then we liked them even more.

We found also a lot of holly trees, which are a little rare where I used to live. They always make me think of Christmas and their new leaves were so soft and bright yellow.


I’m enchanted by this place and it’s quiet brimming of birds and flowers and trees. I can tell it’s a place I’ll come back to again and again to wander and find the hidden nooks and corners.