Really, there are some times when English just isn’t the Right Language for the moment. Sometimes, only Yiddish – the language of a people all too familiar with catastrophic losses and grieving – will do. Now would be one of those times.
Once a storm passes in Texas, you fall into one of three groups: someone who has suffered a major loss and can think only of recovery (or possibly, can only sit and weep), a friend/family of someone who has suffered a major loss but who has not done so yourself, and everyone else. The job of the first two groups is clear: desperately try to put things back together, somehow, and get through the next day. The job of the third group, as far as I can tell, is to load the car/SUV/pickup truck/little red wagon up and go Inspect the Devastation.
Since my house managed to dodge the bullet on round one for major losses, and the dust on round two isn’t due to settle for another 36 hours or so, we fell into the third group. The Connecticut, which is really our Local Flood, is a work in progress, and the part of it that is closest to us isn’t doing anything tremendously interesting yet other than rising like crazy and developing ginormous snags and rafts of lumber, branches, trees, and other detritus against the bridge pilings. So we piled into the car to go Look At The Flood. We had information that the Deerfield River, a little to the north of us, had flooded (Oy Vey, more on that below). In fact, it flooded to the extent that the interstate had been closed down, so that’s where we went. We figured, cross no barriers, interfere with no work trucks, and stay out of the way otherwise. And get a load of what was going on.
We were on our way up Route 5 and 10 with not many signs of a flood, or massive wind damage for that matter, in sight. As we headed out of Deerfield, we drove through a cloud of dust raised by other cars.
“What the heck is this stuff?” I said. My husband ventured the opinion that it was some kind of construction dust. No. It was too fine for that. Too…powdery.
And that’s when it hit me. It was silt. The road we were driving on had been underwater yesterday, and probably through this morning. Thank heavens that the air behind the storm was dry – that is one of the best things we have going for us – and the river, which is ordinarily nowhere near the road had receded and evaporated. We hit several more patches like that before we saw the water. I think we were looking at a golf course, but there was really no way to be sure. There were, however, many many many cars headed in the opposite direction from our route. Ordinarily this is a back road, it’s scenic, with many of the Farm Stands I love so much, but it’s not what you’d call highly traveled. Today, it was.
And it was, because the southbound traffic from I-91 was being detoured along this route, as the interstate was still closed.
“Hmm” we said, “let us see if we can get back home without sitting through this massive traffic jam.” and off we headed down Route 2 towards Shelburne Falls.
Shelburne Falls is an absolutely lovely little village on the Deerfield River. There are lots of artists, several charming markets, an interesting geographical feature (the glacial Potholes), and the Famous Bridge of Flowers.
We love Shelburne Falls, and we go up there several times a year to walk around and enjoy ourselves. It’s a friendly, lovely little place.
Which is why it was distressing and astonishing to see this.
That’s a view of the same glacial potholes shown above in a more peaceful moment.
And here, sadly, is the Famous Bridge of Flowers, now closed indefinitely
Now, all this is bad enough. And on our way back we saw that the Connecticut has, as predicted, started to overflow its banks and inundate some farms. I know with some part of my brain that rivers are supposed to flood and that this is why river-bottom farmland is so good, but the other part of my brain recognizes that late August is not when this is supposed to happen, and that I am seeing real lives being affected, and not in a good way, by all that water.
This stuff is worth an Oy Gevalt. What launches it into the Land of Oy Vey Iz Mir for me is the knowledge that every damned drop of the water thundering through Shelburne Falls, where the river is wide and the dams are mostly intact, came first from Vermont, a place where the hills are steep and the rivers are narrow. A place even less fitted to handle large volumes of water than the Pioneer Valley.
In particular, the water I was looking at – before it devastated parts of Shelburne Falls – devastated the entire town of Wilmington, VT. Wilmington VT has the distinction of being a terribly cute classic Vermont Country Town, yes. It has the distinction of being positioned at a major intersection between two of New England’s most scenic drives, VT 9 and the famous Vt 100. It has the distinction of serving as the local town for my favorite ski area ever, Mount Snow. It has the distinction of sporting the Maple Leaf brew pub, and Dot’s Diner, one of the Great American Treasures, a tiny little diner overlooking, yes, the Deerfield River, and serving the best damned onion rings on the planet, berry berry pancakes that were written up in the late, lamented Gourmet Magazine, and meatloaf better than anything that ever came from your mother’s kitchen. Or your own, and that includes my kitchen, and I make one mean meatloaf. It also has, or had, the nicest, friendliest waitstaff and cooks, and they’d make you a milkshake to die for. It’s in the old Wilmington Post Office, a building that has been there since 1832.
But here is what Dot’s looks like after that blasted storm, and what the Deerfield River spent it’s Sunday doing.
And here is a picture of our Great American Treasure getting thoroughly trashed Sunday morning:
Someone opened up a FB album to hold all the photos of the devastation in Wilmington and surrounding areas. I recognized every square foot of about 75% of those pictures, because I have a season pass to Mount Snow, and in the winter, I’m up there twice a week when school’s in session, and more frequently when it’s not. It’s beautiful, beautiful country, populated with lovely, friendly people…many of whom are now homeless, have had their livelihoods decimated, and who can’t even drive themselves out, because as you can see from the second-to-last shot above, the roads have been absolutely trashed.
These scenes are being repeated all over Vermont. It just seems so bloody unfair that a landlocked mountainous state can be completely devastated by a freaking tropical storm. There’s just something terribly wrong about this. Covered bridges that are hundreds of years old have been washed away. Killington apparently lost their entire base lodge in a mudslide. It’s not just buildings, it’s not just people – this area is dense with dairy farms of sweet, clean, picturesque ice-cream cows, and big hairy horses that pull sleighs for riding in the winter.
It is so horrible that words, or at least English words, fail me.
Oy vey iz mir. And Oy vey iz Vermont.
No pictures of mine today. I don’t have the heart for it.