Submitted by Susan Gillotti, Norwich, Vermont: Writer’s Brook
There’s a small stream in Vermont that I love. As I approach it through the woods, I hear
the sound of its water coursing over smooth rocks. For many years I came here in the summer after a day of writing, to sit on a rock and dabble my feet in the water. Upstream, five hundred feet away, was a swimming hole created by the building of a dam in the late 1920s.
In 2011, Hurricane Irene smashed through Vermont and took with it many streambeds. It ripped out the dam that made the swimming hole and threw tree trunks in every direction. Those tree trunks crisscross the stream today, and I no longer feel the same urge to come to the brook to cool my feet.
Except that I do come, and will come again on June 20 Exchange. I keep hoping the original beauty of the place will return. After the hurricane, I reached out to the town’s Tree Committee to see if there could be a cleanup, but there was no money. The town debated what to do to create another swimming hole, and ran into environmental regulations enacted after the original dam had been built, precluding any repair without a huge financial investment. (To the credit of Vermont legislators, environmental regulations now specify that there needs to be a fish ladder to protect trout.) I continue to go to the brook each year to make a Radical Joy Bird, to let the brook know that someone cares.
It is now four years since Hurricane Irene, and the site of the swimming pool looks worse than ever. The undergrowth beside the stream is more than I can tramp through, and the fallen trees have been joined by more. I take photographs showing slabs of upended concrete, eroded banks where once there was grass, and orange tape warning of danger. There is graffiti on the outdoor restroom.
The sound of the brook, however, calls me still. I close my eyes and it’s as if nothing has changed. Nature herself will make this right, I think.