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For nature writer, ‘eating out’ means bundling up and savoring the outdoors

Kezia Bacon researched her first "Picnic Lunchbreak" column at Luddam’s Ford Park in Hanover.
Kezia Bacon researched her first "Picnic Lunchbreak" column at Luddam’s Ford Park in Hanover.Kezia Bacon

For those spending too much time indoors during a pandemic winter, Marshfield nature writer Kezia Bacon proposes a radical notion: take a real “lunch break.”

“Many area nature preserves offer picnic tables with gorgeous views,” Bacon writes. Bundle up, she urges, place a take-out order with a nearby restaurant, grab your food, drive to a nearby nature preserve, and spend a few minutes eating outdoors.

And maybe take a walk.

Not only will “eating out” bring a fresh perspective to the monotony of lockdown days, she points out, but it will offer some needed support for local restaurants.

Called “Picnic Lunchbreak,” the new column is co-sponsored by the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, an environmental protection agency, and Edible South Shore & South Coast, a publication about local food sources. You can find it on both organizations’ websites, www.nsrwa.org and www.ediblesouthshore.com, respectively.

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A freelance writer who has written some 350 columns for the watershed preservation group, many of them also published by local newspapers, Bacon said she was motivated by the belief that even in winter people benefit from spending time outdoors.

Sometimes the weather may be too severe to imagine sitting down at a picnic table to gulp down a sandwich or a few spoonfuls of salad bowl, but on days when the sun is shining an outdoor break can stimulate the senses and lift the spirit.

Bacon said she was looking for a way to encourage people to get outdoors in the winter season, “even if it’s only for a few minutes.”

The first two columns offering specific instructions on where to eat and where to order food point readers to sites in Hanover and Duxbury. New columns are scheduled to appear each Wednesday.

Part of the goal is highlighting and supporting local restaurants during the pandemic, some of which provide only take-out food service.

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“The place where you’ll be taking food is outdoors, not so far away that the food will get cold,” Bacon said. “We try to keep them in the same town. And there has to be a picnic table,” she added. “It’s take-out and then you just take it to a nature preserve, where you can enjoy a walk afterwards.”

The option for stretching the lunch break into a healthful walk in the woods, even of brief or moderate duration, is a big part of the idea. “I talk about the trails so people can know what’s there,” Bacon said.

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“One of my all-time favorite places for a nature walk is the Indian Head River, a major tributary to the North River,” Bacon writes in her first Lunchbreak column.

The picnic site is Luddam’s Ford Park in Hanover. The trail follows an old railroad bed upriver to Hanson. Side trails offer water views. To do the long loop, you cross the river and work your way back downstream through Tucker Preserve.

Picnic site options include grassy spots with picnic tables on both sides of the river. You can scale the walk back to your desired time frame with what Bacon calls “out and back walks” within these locations.

“You can go out and back on the same side and see beautiful things. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. You won’t be lost and be back to work late,” she added helpfully.

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The column suggests ordering takeout from a restaurant located 2 miles away, The Epicurean Kitchen, described as “comfort food with a twist.” Bacon recommended the sweet potato soup and a grain bowl.

The second column recommended a picnic lunch outing at a more compact area in Duxbury. “If you’re looking for a quick walk in a convenient location, consider the 0.3-mile loop trail at Duxbury’s Cow Tent Hill Preserve,” Bacon’s column states. There’s a four-car parking area at the roadside. A picnic table gives views of the Duck Hill River.

The site is located on Route 3A and it’s close to the restaurant where you can pick up your food order. The column recommends ordering takeout from The Anchor, with a menu offering salads, sandwiches, burgers, burritos, and other entrees “plus craft beer and wine to go.”

Other columns will take readers to Scituate, Abington, Pembroke, Marshfield, Norwell, and Kingston. They are, at least in part, labors of love for a writer who was raised in Marshfield.

After graduating from Hampshire College, Bacon said she found that she’d “fallen in love with the North and South rivers and wanted my work to be about them. And I’m still doing that work.”

Robert Knox can be contacted at rc.knox2@gmail.com.