The leaf smothered road crunches under the force of my step, as I pace with a feverish intensity. The autumn colors blur in my peripherals as my breath condenses in the cool autumn air. As the sun sets behind the western hills and a chill settles upon the lucid Vermont landscape, a pine tree stretches to the beat of the wind. It creeks and cracks, but remains stalwart and determined. As I crest a small hill, a white-tailed deer looms large. It looks at me apathetically, unwilling to move. My pace slows. For a meager moment we look eye to eye, before the deer abruptly runs off into the thick deciduous forest to the east. The Ompompanoosuc River roars in the valley below me, as it relentlessly carves its way through the valley floor. My mind begins to wonder.
This is a place where clarity meets solitude. Where my thoughts and sentiments align with the reverberations of the journey of the sun. Locals call this place, “The Da,” but for me it’s always been home. The Union Village Dam is a 5,000-acre parcel of land ruled by the Army Corp of Engineers, nestled in the heart of my hometown, Thetford, VT. Although constructed by the unrelenting fortitude of the Corps of Engineers during the Dam Era of the 1950s, it’s not merely a symbol of man’s might to me, but of natures’ wonder.
For the past 25 years, the dam has been the place where I wondered, explored, and pondered the intricacies of our lonely planet. From the sight of spring’s first lilies to the stubborn beach leaves that last into the depths of winter, the dam has always been the place that has provided me with earth’s greatest gift- nature. It has molded me and inspired me, but most importantly taught me that nature isn’t simply something to be taken for granted. Nature is to be cherished and protected with tooth and nail. The dam is the place that taught me so, and I’m forever grateful.