Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Where I am working every day on this spit of an island along the river bucking up whole trees brought down by Hurricane Irene, I can watch the river change color.

It's changing by what is happening up river.

The river all comes down from Marlboro, Vermont and the uncountable small tributaries in brooks, creeks, streams and springs fed on both sides of a rock faced forest covered terrain. The real place. The real stuff. Not yet domesticated and ruled.

So yesterday we traveled up river to have a look for ourselves to see what's been mucking this water for weeks on end since the big storm. It's not yet back to its green river look, but more a muddy soiled sometimes creamy gumbo; and it no longer wanders like it did for decades on end in the shape of a long shoelace left on the floor. The flood straightened it out but good; took out the kinks, so it runs swifter, and louder, and the rapids look delightful where they play. I miss my old river, but what are you going to do? All old gets brushed up and moved along somewhere down the line. We included.

Up river we found house size excavators smack dab in the river planted and working. They're there because it's the only position one can be in to rebuild a river bank and thus the road running right alongside. It's all day, all week, weeks swiveling these machines and lifting tremendous rock and making a road that moves people. The river stays mucked until this gets done. It's another law of nature.

The woodlands in Halifax, up river from Guilford where these excavators are churning, was hit hard by the flood. The valley narrows there and the river gorges more and a flood has nowhere to go but through. It took everything in its path. Trees in the hundreds woven into mammoth baskets that would take an army of workers to maneuver into firewood and maybe 300 cord at that. A flood has no room to exaggerate, all it does is exaggerate to a precision. Go up river another half mile and find another blasted basket of trees formed up with dimensions way past man's ability and there's another stockyard of firewood. If you're game.

Back at home I'm nearing the end of bucking up and splitting my own smaller basket of trees. I'm into the easier basswood/poplar now, after days of tough red oak, which splits green with some ease. I took down a few thick poplar logs and with my chain saw carved out two chairs and set them sturdy on the island, and then Sweetheart quietly mentioned "a table". So I sworded one out while I was at it. Then left her a note, where she'll see it at dawn, telling her the two chairs and a table are waiting for us.

By a river that never sleeps.

photo "red oak" © bob arnold
(roads open / roads closed after the flood)