Tribune Print Share Text

‘An extraordinary campus’

Self-taught naturalist intrigued by Brooksby’s wetlands and wildlife

Created date

April 16th, 2015
A great egret fishes in one of Brooksby’s ponds.
A great egret fishes in one of Brooksby’s ponds.

When Miriam Lasher first visited Brooksby in November 2005, she didn’t have any sense of the community’s natural beauty.

“It was winter, so I didn’t get a good look at the grounds,” says Miriam. “My first impression of Brooksby was its size. It’s a sprawling campus.”

Miriam chose Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., because she was familiar with the concept of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) and liked the idea that any future health care needs could be met in one location.

“I had family members who lived in CCRCs in other parts of the country,” she says. “They enjoyed the lifestyle and amenities offered by a CCRC.”

‘Oasis for wildlife’

Miriam was still working for The Guidance Center directing the Cambridge-Somerville Early Intervention program when she moved to Brooksby in July 2006. Still, she made time to walk around the community’s grounds two to three times a day.

“I’ve always lived in places that were more country than city,” says Miriam, who moved to Brooksby from Reading. “I walk in the morning and evening for exercise and to see what’s going on.”

During one of those first walks around Brooksby, Miriam spotted a river otter swimming in one of the community’s ponds. Not long after, she heard a screech owl from her apartment.

“I began to observe the wonderful wildlife and wetlands at Brooksby and the extraordinary quarry wall on one side of the property,” says Miriam. “We’re surrounded by such beauty here. It’s like a protected oasis for wildlife.”

Miriam, who devoted her career to early childhood education and interventions, began to pursue her outdoor interests with equal enthusiasm. She joined Brooksby’s garden club and was elected to the Resident Advisory Council, where she represented outdoor interests and landscaping.

Always learning

“I don’t have any formal training as a naturalist, but I wanted to add to my knowledge of the environment around me,” says Miriam. “The general services department was very kind to include me in their discussions of what was taking place on the grounds. They made me feel like a member of the team.”

Miriam began to share her findings with other residents at town hall meetings with an occasional segment called “Nature Notes,” highlighting the community’s ecosystems. 

“I’m on the ground around the clock,” says Miriam. “Each day holds the promise of observing something new at Brooksby. I’ve seen deer, coyotes, weasels, fishers, muskrats, and a large variety of birds.”

Miriam’s passion for the outdoors encompasses Brooksby and its surrounding region. She volunteers for the Massachusetts Audubon Society at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield. She is also on the board of the Ipswich River Watershed Association.

“I feel fortunate to live in such beautiful surroundings with wildlife just outside my door,” says Miriam. “This is an extraordinary campus.”