Fortson Pond, Darrington Washington
I love Fortson Pond. I know that is neither a profound nor eloquent statement. But it is true. Today it’s all about dragon flies. They’re everywhere. Hovering over head and flying alongside me as I walk the railroad grade. Above me fresh snow softens the sharp rocks near the summit of Whitehorse Mtn. and slides down into the upper meadows mixing with the fiery red of the huckleberry bushes. It is a warm October day and leaves crunch underfoot. In the pond I see the reflection of Whitehorse and the alder, vine maple and cedar trees that encircle the pond. In front of me is a profusion of cattails into which a beaver trail disappears.
This place I now love for its quiet and wetlands, for its blackbirds, herons and eagles, once hosted a town of over 300 people with a company store, post office, bunk houses, homes, three saloons, a Sunday school as well as a sawmill and rail yard, machine shop and electric plant. The town burnt down once, was rebuilt and thrived into the 1940’s. The grade I walk on once rumbled day and night with trains hauling out the old growth trees of the Stillaguamish valley. The pond itself was filled with logs waiting to be loaded onto railcars. All that seems lost now. Time has softened the scars of history. The stories of those who lived and worked here – their sorrows and joys have melted into the grasses and the crumbling cement of the mill walls.
Fortson is where I spent the morning before my son was born. Now he is seven and we often come here to fish in the pond or swim. The other night he lay on the floor of his bedroom and asked what was on the other side of infinity as if it was a place one arrived at. I told him I had never actually been there but maybe that’s where heaven is. He asked what heaven looked like. I said I thought maybe it looked something like Fortson Pond.