The Great Meadow is a large wetland which extends from the outlet of Nubanusit Lake to Harrisville Pond. The watercourse that runs through it is Nubanusit Brook, which continues on from Harrisville to Hancock and finally into the Contoocook River in Peterborough. Through the Meadow it is a meandering brook, often dammed by beaver, with a little rapids stretch at the portage in Harrisville, off Bancroft Road. Also at the portage, there is evidence of a mill where clothespins were once made.
The Meadow is a rich habitat for a variety of plants and animals. At any time of the year, it offers ample opportunity for observation and exploration, but in the months of October and November, it also affords the opportunity for cranberry picking, if you know where to look. Cranberry picking in a wetland is not for the faint of heart. Hip high or waist high waders are the best options for attire, and one should be prepared for cold hands and patient picking.
Some years, the cranberries have been so abundant that we have come away with five or six gallons of berries. Other years, it has taken hours to pick just a gallon or two. But either way, as we can attest, a bad day of cranberry picking is still a good day to be outside.
In the summer, the abundance of wildflowers is a treat for the eyes. Swamp milkweed, marsh rose, Rose Pagonia (a native orchid), pitcher plants, sundew, boneset, Button bush, cardinal flower, and Joe Pye Weed are some of the commonly seen flowers.
The Bittern Leg
Of the fauna, we have observed eastern painted turtles, smooth green snakes, deer, snowshoe hare, beaver, muskrat, and bear, as well as wood ducks, great blue herons, and American bittern (once we found just the leg of a bittern, distinctive for its green color—the bird’s demise was a mystery).
One year, Al Stoops and I determined to explore the Great Meadow once a month for 12 months. Amazingly, we were able to paddle all 12 months of the year, though we did have to break some ice during the February trip.
The Great Meadow is a treasure shared with our Harrisville neighbors. If you have not yet explored this fascinating place, I encourage you to do so. Please send me an email (email@example.com) and I’ll facilitate arrangements for access to private property where you can get started for a two to four hour exploration, depending on how quickly you want to go. I recommend taking it slow. It’s worth it.