A Letter From Lissy Newman about the Newman-Poses Preserve
May 2, 2011
I believed, from the time I was about 7, that all of this land was mine. I treated it like it was mine. I went crazy wild here with dogs every day after school, indeed, I thought I was a dog. I seemed to experience nature here the way a dog does, face first, running through thorns, snuffling in the mud, tracking deer.
Later, I built entire miniature farm communities with sticks and stones and mud, tiny rows of moss laid out like gardens, and stone walls and country lanes, stretching down the river, periodically washed away by spring rains.
I could spend hours lying with my cheek on the wet ground, peering through the tiny doorways, half expecting tiny farmers to peer back at me, waving tiny shotguns, and threatening to chase me off their land.
But nobody did ever chase me, not Lillian Poses, or Mary Warburg, not even Dominic, the gardener, who stoically endured our constant filching from the garden shed.
When my little sister was 3, she and her friend went running through Mary’s tea party wearing nothing but ribbons, (or maybe it was me,) but none of these neighbors, who kept such glorious woods, ever kept us from them.
As teenagers, we were all, no doubt, dreadful, but the woods never judged, and managed, I feel, to keep us safe. The Warburgs and the Poses turned a politely blind eye to my sisters and me, generous when others might not have been.
We all would careen down the hill and into the woods with our friends, chased out sometimes by the deer flies and mosquitoes. I remember after seeing Hitchcock’s “The Birds” spooking myself home on a dusky evening over some suddenly menacing looking crows.
I built my last elaborate twig fort when I was 20, to impress a boy. Several woody igloos stood, intertwined, a piece of art.
Twenty years of building forts gets you a pretty nice fort, and I got the boy as I recall. It stood for many years, in the middle of the wood, and I showed the remnants of it to the man I would later marry, and the spot where it had been, later, to my children.
I frequently walked these fields with my father, and the ubiquitous pack of dogs, and we fretted together about what would eventually happen here. He stopped short of buying it outright, and turning it into a preserve, a decision I think he sometimes regretted.
He did, eventually facilitate the first steps in its preservation, which brought us to this point. It seemed to me, that, on his passing, I wanted to hold on to something that was dear to us both.
And so with the help of many kind and devoted people both at Town Hall and at the Aspetuck Land Trust which has agreed to monitor and maintain it, here we are.
So now it belongs to everyone, as I always felt it should. Its wonderful microcosmic diversity lives on to muddy up another several generations.
My desire to push for its preservation came not from any desire to own it, or keep it to myself, but straight up from the mud and moss and grass. I want to thank it all for raising me, and teaching me and protecting me. I want to return the favor.
The important thing to remember is that we are all responsible for making sure that happens. We are all responsible for falling in love with it, for enjoying it, and sharing it, so that if a time ever comes when we need to protect it again we will be there, with children, and grandchildren in tow.
It is pretty near perfect as it is in my opinion, and I hope you all think so too.
By Lissy Newman