Secret Places

My mom is always finding these secret places, the kind of places that people walk or drive by without realizing there’s a door to another world right there.

When my brother and I were little, she would bring us to a circle of dunes behind a public beach. No one was ever there. It was her secret place. Then there was a garden with seven-foot hedges surrounding it. The door could barely be seen, but if anyone walked through it, the reward would be blooming flowers and whispering trees.

She found this place tucked away behind an art gallery off Route 6A in Sandwich. The walk starts off with a maze of paths through the woods. Every once in a while, a sign appears with a quotation or saying as if the scenery itself is telling us secrets. Metal sculptures twist out of the greenery, letting our imaginations wander along with our feet.

The path leads to a narrow rope bridge that bounces crazily with each step.

At first the bridge looks as if it ends in the marsh, but a hidden path off to the side brings us through towering marsh grass, making us feel as tiny as insects wandering through a lawn.

Once through the grass, the path continues along the side of the marsh, where a bench sits and waits for visitors to admire the view.

On our way back through the maze of woods, we see uprooted trees. A sign there states, “Thank you Hurricane Irene.”

Another great thing about this walk full of secret places is that donations are collected toward the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod. If you happen to live in the area or plan a visit, it’s worth a wander behind The Giving Tree Gallery on Route 6A in Sandwich.

Do you have a secret place? How did you find it?

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53 thoughts on “Secret Places

  1. I used to love wandering the woods behind by grandparents’ house in Chatham as a kid. One time when I was exploring with another renter kid, we were so offended to find trash in the woods we cleaned it up. Somehow the owner of the place where we were staying found out and came and gave each of us a dollar. 40 years ago, that was a lot of penny candy. LOL.
    I’m sure you’ve done Brewster Flats? Not a secret, but spectacular all the same.

    • It is amazing what we can find in the woods. That’s great that you cleaned up the trash and got some candy out of it! I’m not sure – is Brewster Flats the same as the Punkhorn? I used to love wandering or biking through there and would usually end up getting lost.

      • Brewster Flats is on 6A. It’s a trail through the marsh to a spot where, at low tide, you can probably walk a half-mile or morre to get the the water.

  2. I don’t have any secret places, but after reading this and looking at those images, I wish I did. 🙂

    • It was a lot of fun wandering through there, especially while not really knowing what we’d discover around the next bend. At one point, there was crushed glass along the path that sparkled in the sun. The art gallery owners must have spent a lot of time creating all that magic!

  3. The bridge reminds me of one that I crossed with some cousins up in Canada so long ago. Instead of the grasses we had the river rushing so far below. My aunt Lee called it Hell’s Gate. She crossed it with her three children, my grandmother and myself. Of course being children, we had to make it swing at least a bit!

    • It’s so fun finding places and bridges like that as kids! Sounds scary though with a raging river under there – it was scary enough with a marsh underneath. I can really picture all of it, including the exciting chance to bounce the adults around a bit. Thank you for sharing that story.

  4. I grew up in a rural area so there were lots of secret places: swimming holes, horse riding through the bush and sometimes just sitting quietly underneath a tree far from our house.

    • That sounds perfect. I bet there were lots of climbing trees around. I used to just sit in a tree or climb up onto the roof of the house to read. Just the thought is making me want to go climb a tree!

  5. I love your post and also your mom’s secret place of soothing beauty! Thanks for sharing Shiela, it really felt i was walking with you as i read and looked at each image!

  6. beautiful, Sheila. Once I had a hide away as I called it , it was a chair from rocks at a small waterfall hidden from the view by the surrounding trees. It’s was so peaceful to sit there and listen to the water.

    • Sitting in a waterfall secret place like that sounds wonderful. I’ve been to a waterfall with rocks covered in so much moss that people could slide down the waterfall and into the water. I only went there once but it’s a great memory.

  7. What a beautiful spot!
    My main secret place is my own garden – it’s very sheltered and quiet, with big trees all the way around, so it’s hard for anyone to see in.
    There is also a lovely garden up in the Dandenong Ranges near us, called Cloudehill (www.cloudehill.com.au) which has hidden secret spots and artwork, and some of the best perennial planting I’ve ever seen.

    • Gardens are great secret places (though mine is pretty wild and overgrown for now)! It’s nice to have places like that nearby that are good for reading and imagining. Cloudehill looks like perfect place for wandering too.

  8. What a wonderful, magical post and pictures! When you’re little, places like that really fire the imagination.

    When I was little, we had a patch of giant flowers in the woods behind our house. We were only small and these great lupins or whatever they were towered over us, and we were in awe of them. It became a secret meeting place and we made tunnels through the dense long grass, building a little community. When our parents asked where we were all disappearing to, we told them about the giant flowers. No one believed us, but these are precious memories of my childhood.

    • Wow – that sounds like a fairy tale! I can really picture it all. It’s a good thing the grown ups didn’t believe you or they might have gone there too!

  9. I’ll have to mark this down for the next time I’m visiting the Cape. What a fun place that looks like.

    When I was a kid, we lived in a remote part of NH. There was a meadow in part of our property and just beyond that was a small path that led down to a wooded area. At the end of the path was a large pond, which we called the beaver pond because you could see a bunch of beaver huts. No one ever went down there, and it was so fun to explore and imagine we were in another world.

    • It’s a great place for kids – hope you guys have fun! These stories are making me think of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I used to wish we could go through a door and find worlds like that, but really we can. I guess the beavers probably didn’t talk to you or anything like that but it can all still be pretty magical. Thanks for sharing your secret place.

  10. These are beautiful pictures and a lovely tribute to your mother, who first introduced you to secret places. The amazing thing about such places is how they almost invariably soothe the soul. Thanks for the reminder to seek out the secret places, for myself and my children!

    • Thank you and I hope you find lots of secret places to introduce your children to. It’s a fun way to share the magic.

  11. What a magical place to wander and enjoy! Especially liked the second photo with curving tree trunk. Thank you so much for visiting me today at my blog. Look forward to more of your posts.

    • It did feel that way – especially with the wind gently blowing everything around. I’m glad you enjoyed walking through magic!

  12. I find it very artful, the manner in which you combine images and text. Both are lovely; I enjoyed this post very much!

    • Thank you – that’s very nice of you. Sometimes it feels like I’m just throwing stuff out there, but nature and walks like this always inspire me. I really liked your writing and hope you have fun with those books!

    • Southern CA sounds good to me about now! It’s getting colder already and the leaves are almost all down. I do like the snow though – just not the cold that goes along with it – but it is good for hibernating and reading.

    • Thank you so much. The art scattered through the woods brought even more fun into it and the walk is filled with inspiration.

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