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No June swoon for busy South County attractions

By Rod Lee

It must be June. Evidence of this is everywhere, from the concrete bird baths, animal statuary, gazing globes, fire pits and bird feeders on display at Robbins Garden Center in Oxford to the imminent start of the Yuengling Summer Concert Series at Indian Ranch in Webster to the strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, cucumbers and greens that are now available with the opening of Charlton Orchards’ 2017 season.

Nowhere is it more apparent that the shackles of the cold-weather months have been removed than at Indian Ranch, with Barenaked Ladies (6/18), Huey Lewis and The News (6/24) and The Marshall Tucker Band (6/25) are scheduled to appear on stage to kick off the new year and where the Indian Princess paddleboat is back on the water for private bookings and special events.

Things actually started heating up in South County in May. Robbins Garden Center, a venerable operation, celebrated eighty years in business throughout the month—a milestone nearly as impressive as the nine children, twenty-two grandchildren and nine great grandchildren who the nursery’s Pat Robbins proudly makes time for when she is not managing the store.

Also in May, outdoor enthusiasts had a chance to check out the hot new 508 International entertainment venue in Charlton, which hosted Endurance Games over the May 20-21 weekend. Meanwhile, Buffumville Lake in Charlton, a popular spot for disc golf, boating, hiking, picnics and the beach, began welcoming springtime visitors.

Speaking of the great outdoors, an appearance on June 10th at Booklovers’ Gourmet on East Main St. in Webster by Marjorie Turner Hollman of Bellingham is certain to draw interest. Ms. Turner Hollman is a transplanted Floridian who comes from a long line of southern storytellers. She earned a degree in history from Bridgewater State here in Massachusetts and helped author “Easy Walks in Massachusetts” which describes nearly ninety trails in thirty-one contiguous towns in the South Central part of the state.

She has also told veterans’ oral histories through the Bellingham/Mendon Veterans Oral History Project and is now collaborating with one of the walking groups she has connected with for another “Easy Walks” book, this one to be entitled “Easy Walks in the Ten-Mile River Watershed.”

She told Yankee Xpress that she is familiar with Deb Horan’s Booklovers’ Gourmet. “I met (musicians) Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards there last summer to begin planning this summer’s MA walking tour, now just a few weeks away!” Ms. Turner Hollman said last Wednesday. Founders of the Massachusetts Walking Tour, they will perform with her on June 10th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Ms. Turner Hollman stays busy promoting walks.

“Over the past four years I have probably done sixty-plus programs at libraries, senior centers and cable TV stations and have varied the topics of the presentation according to the season” (fall foliage walks in autumn, for instance, just working out the winter kinks in spring). “The response I’ve gotten has been wonderful. Some events have been better publicized than others and when people know about the program the room fills and they are eager to learn where they can safely take their children, grandchildren and dogs.”

She has made “good friends” through this outreach, which is important, she said, because “I do not walk alone.” This helps her get acquainted “with people in different areas,” especially crucial in that “I’m documenting specific towns” for her work.

Her Facebook page “Easy Walks in Massachusetts” has more than seven hundred followers. She notes that a number of hiking groups use Facebook to announce such events as river cleanups, night walks and day hikes.

There is no shortage of events at Booklovers’ Gourmet this month. Stay-at-home mom to four-year-old twin girls and nature photographer Amy Finkel’s photos will be on display throughout June (gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 to 5:00) with a reception on June 24th from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. An Open Mic Share is offered this Saturday (June 3rd) from 2:00 to 4:00; all poets are welcome! And a discussion of “What’s Really Behind the Paranorma?l” featuring father-son authors and broadcasters Paul and Ben Eno is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. June 17th.

Whether taking advantage of the three rooms for functions (Garden Room, Deck Room, Terrace Room) at J Anthony’s in North Oxford, enjoying a domestic draft beer (possibly with hummus or a salad embellished with salmon) at Zorba’s Pizzeria in Charlton, lunch or dinner at Eighty Ates or The Lodge in Webster, Oxfords Casual Dining in Oxford, “Rocking the Dock” at Waterfront Mary’s, sampling a Paint Night at Point Breeze, doing some shopping at Gail’s Fabulous Finds or Rust to Ruffles in Oxford or the Gift Gallery in Webster or spending an afternoon at the Dudley Do Right Flea Market, the time is right.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.