November 19, 2007

Runaway Pond

Runaway Pond Memorial


I'm a sucker for roadside memorials. This weekend I saw the Runaway Pond memorial just outside Barton, VT:

"On June 6, 1810, workers intending to create a new outlet from Long Pond north to the Barton River, instead, unintentionally caused the banks of the entire body of water to give way. This resulted in a huge flood throughout the Barton River Valley. The valley drops 600 feet from Runaway Pond to Orleans for an average of about 40 feet per mile.

The results of this can still be seen today in the Village of Barton and elsewhere. One of the laborers, Spencer Chamberlain, ran ahead of the flood to warn people at the mill just in time to save their lives. In fact, no lives were lost. This heroic act is commemorated each year on Glover Day (the first day of August) by a road race following the path of the river." [Wikipedia]


I couldn't help but be reminded of a similar (but more catastrophic) industrial accident over a hundred years later, the Boston Molasses Flood of 1919:

"The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood or The Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. A large molasses tank burst and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that on hot summer days the area still smells of molasses."[Wikipedia]


Stopping to see the Runaway Pond memorial was Ken's spur-of-the-moment decision, a quick stop on our way out of town. He couldn't have known how symbolic the gesture was; the night before I had been restless with nightmares (as usual). In the dream I'd had just before waking up, Manhattan was beset by intermittent underground explosions that caused water lines to rupture and buildings to collapse. There would be a rumble, a sudden rush of water, and then a nearby building would shudder to its knees. My friends and I struggled to get uptown, having to zigzag through the city as our way became blocked by new gushers. I told Tex about the dream before breakfast, but, in the true nature of dreams, I didn't remember it at all a couple hours later as I photographed this monument. In fact, I only made the connection a few moments ago as began compiling links for this post.

Our dreams are the conversation we're having with ourselves about our life. Mere words barely even begin to stretch the capacity of our minds for this dialogue, and are dismissed too easily-- sometimes you need to feel and hear that water thundering behind you in order to get whatever point youre trying to make, to scare you into remembering, heeding, and ruminating on certain subjects later on when you're awake. In order for a dream to have power over you in broad daylight, it has to infect you with something you can't find anywhere else, so that you'll return to yourself night after night for the next bout of witty repartee with your unknowable self.

1 comment:

Jessamyn said...

I insist you stop by and say hello next time you are within my state's borders!