I feel like this entry needs some kind of set-up or introduction. May it suffice to say that my fellow Ranger, Connie, and I discovered something that may not mean much to some people, but we thought it was a treasure…in a way.
The lake is very low; lower than I’ve seen it since I’ve been here at the park. It has been lower a few times since it was built, but not much lower, and not many times. Connie and I were taking advantage of the low lake level to explore the new shoreline and see if we could find anything of interest.
We were on foot; walking along the new shoreline approximately 50 yards off the usual shoreline of what we refer to as “Hippie Point”. Hippie Point got its name in the 1960’s and 1970’s, before that particular piece of land was state park owned, and is another story altogether.
After a bit, I found an odd looking piece of glass. Though it was large enough and detailed enough to be intriguing, there was no way to know what it had been before it was cast to the waters. Then we started finding more bits of glass, and some shards of pottery that immediately brought images of an old butter churn to mind.
By and by, I became convinced that we were in fact very near an old house place that was usually covered by water. At some point I decided to look in a broader sense at the ground on which we stood. I backed up to the water’s edge and looked back toward the usual shoreline, and there it was.
Strewn from the usual waterline to the present waterline, there was an old cast-iron wood-burning cook stove. Or rather, the remains of one. A little more examination of the site as a whole revealed what looked like the foundation site of an old house. It was far more eroded than the area immediately surrounding it; as anyone who has been in the crawl space of an old house can attest to, there’s nothing but dirt there. Without the roots of grass to hold it in place, it makes sense to me that it would have eroded more than the surrounding ground, which would have most likely been covered in grass.
At the time, I have to admit that I thought our little find was interesting – and not much more. Upon further reflection, I started to find it not only interesting, but a little creepy as well. You see, by all evidence, it would appear that Connie and I were standing in what used to be someone’s kitchen.
After even more thought, I finally settled on three emotions to take with me from that experience. I found it interesting, creepy, and sad.
If you’ve come this far with me, maybe you’re willing to go one step further?
Picture with me, if you will: a simple country family huddled around that old wood stove on the coldest night of the year, glad in its warmth; see and smell the Christmas dinners that were made in that kitchen; the special dinners made on that stove when the babies were born, and when the men came home from war.
Then the world moved on.
The water rose, inexorable as time itself, and stilled that stove in cool darkness.
Forty-odd years on, the waters withdrew and the sun shone again on this place of the past, this place that lie dreaming of days gone by.
We stood there on the bank, we two strangers to this place, and we stared at the bones of the life this place once knew, and we heard the echo of its memories.
And then we moved on, as must we all.