Judy and Lynda Johnson moved to Mattapoisett in 1994. The two sisters and best friends had spent most of their lives as teachers in the Fall River public school system, challenging, mentoring, and inspiring countless students in the city they had both been born and raised in. But when it was time for a change they didn’t have to look very far to find a place they could call their new home: Mattapoisett. They settled here, on Pico Beach Rd, for several reasons: the solitude, the ocean, the serenity, but most of all, the animals. The woods in their backyard held new surprises each and every day. From the deer in twos, threes and more, to the raccoons and rabbits, to the odd stray cat (two of which becoming permanent residents) to the countless birds singing their songs and chatting endlessly in the trees, their home and the land around it became a sanctuary–a respite from developers and the like. It was something more than special to come home to after a long, hard day in the city–to drive off the highway and pull down the quiet road and into the address once called, simply, Greenwood. And when they retired not too long ago the two sisters finally were able to live a life they had only dreamed about. They would watch from their windows the daily performances on a stage of lawn and leaves, pampas grass and lily pads, the two-legged, four legged and winged of all kinds enjoying this world they were born into, undisturbed and free from harm.
In 2007 Judith, my mother, passed away after a long, ferocious battle with cancer at the age of 65. In 2009 her sister, Lynda, passed on after a similar fight at the age of 61.
They left this world and the people they loved far too soon. But people have a way of figuring out how to carry on; those without a voice–the birds, deer, frogs, raccoons and all the rest of the Southcoast’s year-round and seasonal non-human residents–have a less predictable future. That’s why they left instructions with me to portion off the part of the land the wildlife call home and donate it to the Mattapoisett Land Trust. It’s not the largest piece of property–just under two acres–but added to the generous size of woodland already protected by the MLT it makes a nice cherry on the proverbial sundae. And you better believe my mom and aunt loved sundaes.
When Gary Johnson asked me to write a short note to let you all know why they gave this piece of paradise to them I had to put it off several times. I didn’t really want to think about the loss that my family and I endured when these two gentle souls were taken from us any more than I have had to over the last few years. But the part of me that is part of them–the part that feels that connection to the land, sea and sky–ultimately realized that in preserving this little part of the world they loved and held so dear I am preserving not only a place for nature to continuously unfold in peace but I am preserving their memory and their deepest wishes.
The gift was made in January and the MLT was wonderful to work with. It was a simple process and one I would urge anyone thinking about to act on. But there will be no plaque of dedication or ribbon-cutting ceremony. It’s not that kind of event. But simply an act of assurance for the quiet continuation of the cycle of life for all that care to wander through the bramble.
And they would have had it no other way.