It was a brisk December day, and I was on my way back to Boston. I couldn't kill the whole day driving, so I decided to get some fresh air at the Wachusett Meadow nature sanctuary. It was chilly, but the sun was shining. I hiked up to a hillside overlook, around the old farm property full of barns and tractors, and down to a pond where the cattails had burst, spreading their seed around the shore. Just off Route 2, in Central Massachusetts, this sanctuary is a perfect place to catch a deep breath.