We have already posted on our website some photos of a family of swans which we found living almost next to our hotel in Andover, Massachusetts. A swan near our hotel in Andover Massachusetts Male swan with ruffled feathers Quite a few hotels designed for traveling businesspeople have learned that a location deep within a business park can be quite an attraction. The inconvenience to a traveler arriving by plane of needing a taxi or rental car to reach her hotel is more than offset by the peace and quiet of a neighborhood which empties in late afternoon; often, it's possible to walk to Entrance to Meadowlands walk Entrance to the Marsh land walk work because the client company is in the same park. In Andover, several large, glass-fronted, corporate buildings are scatted in Minute Man Park. We had the benefit of a walking path which led not only to the swan family but, in the opposite direction, into a wooded lane where we could hear frogs and birds, and enjoy a variety of wildflowers.

We felt very fortunate to have this natural setting. We're pleased to have found another such preserve, in a much more urban milieu.

Secaucus, New Jersey, was polluted a hundred years ago. Considered unsuitable for building, the swampland was used for garbage dumps, which in turn supported large populations of rats and also pig farms. The pig farmers were happy to have the boys from neighboring communities practice their marksmanship shooting the rats with their .22s. By fifty years ago, industrial chemical companies added to the stench and pollution.

But the Jersey swamps around Secaucus were too close to New York City to ignore. City buildings from the marsh walk The city seems distant here The land was valuable. When traffic was light, it was ten or fifteen minutes to midtown Manhattan via the Lincoln Tunnel. At the same time, the wetlands were being recognized as an important habitat for migrating waterfowl. With its small, relatively crime-free community, Secaucus was a convenient location for air crews overnighting at Newark Airport. Large acreage was available to tempt real estate developers.

In the blocks near our hotel we have found the Expo Center, apartment buildings, office parks, sports complexes, restaurants, more hotels, and shopping malls. The stench is only a memory now. The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission insured that environmental uses were not forgotten as Secaucus boomed. At the end of one of the shopping malls is the Mill Creek Marsh.

We walked on the marsh trail one morning after breakfast, leaving from a supermarket parking lot and making our way to the edge of several large ponds which are dotted with bird feeders and A bunch of wild lilies Wild lilies bird houses. We enjoyed views of trees and flowers set off by the Manhattan skyline in the distance. Winter is the big birding season, but we spotted herons and wading birds and numerous song birds. There's still a lot of trash that ought to be removed from the water and its surrounding banks. No doubt there's some conflict between the need to clean the area up and the desire to leave the marsh unmolested in consideration of the wildlife. The trail was attractive, the vegetation lush (there's been a lot of rain, in case you didn't know), the flowers colorful, and the feeling of being in a natural setting was not diminished by the propinquity of turnpikes, airports, and business centers.