“It’s kind of … small for a writing project, isn’t it?”
Of course it is. It’s a narrow strip of greenery between some power lines and a river, where a mill used to stand. You can hear cars on the road, and when you can’t, it’s either because there’s a train running past just to the west of you or a motorboat just to the east. There’s a picnic area, a soccer field, a parking lot, a power substation. The roads are paved, the river dammed. It’s all about as artificial as you can get in a park that still contains real trees.
But I didn’t ask for untouched wilderness. If I wanted to go all John Muir on you, I have plenty of opportunities to do so. (Whatever else Vermont is short of, gorgeous greenspace isn’t one.) But do you know how much is written every year about the Green Mountains? The Appalachian Trail?
I’m not sure either.
I do, however, know how much is written every year about Kilowatt Park: virtually nothing. And while Muir may be right that grand views of remarkable wilderness have the power to save us from the crushing forces of materialism, I also know that frequent access to a bit of green is what can save us from the crushing forces of our everyday lives.
Every park deserves a poet. Every garden, every stripe of wildflowers growing in profusion along a roadside berm. Every tree house and snow fort has a history that isn’t written down in any glossy guidebook. We may have lost our way to nature, but nature is still here for us, meeting us where we are.
And where we are today, or at least where I am, is a space wedged between the dam and the train tracks. Limited, like a sonnet. Cultivated, like a child. Brief, like laughter.
And worth our art, if anything is.
So here’s to the year ahead.