Because, you know, sometimes what you want to see is something really GREAT.
Back in the fall of 2011, not long after I started keeping my blog, I had the misfortune to be writing about the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irene, not – thankfully – as a direct participant, but as kind of a neighbor-down-the-street.
This is because one of the hardest-hit areas of Vermont was the ski town for my home mountain, a place where I spend an inordinate amount of time and have a fairly large collection of personal contacts. If not exactly “friends”, then very regular business partners with whom I am on a first-name basis.
One of the most tragic victims of this event – in many eyes – was Dot’s Diner, in Wilmington. It’s the building in the lower right hand corner of this video.
Downtown Wilmington is built on the banks of the Deerfield River, typically a peaceful stream. The storm rains sent a flash flood down the valley, and when it was over, people’s lives had been destroyed. And Dot’s. Home of the best onion rings, the best berry pancakes, and the best meatloaf on the planet. And a cheerful spot populated with a rotating cast of characters directly out of a Normal Rockwell picture.
Dot’s was everyone’s home spot. Everyone’s. And when the storm was over, half of it was washed downstream into Massachusetts.
For years, you have been able to cast an utter Pall over any random group of skiers – normally a cheery optimistic bunch – simply by uttering the word “Dot’s”. Vivacious groups will immediately fall into a silent dejection. Any number, any group, we all of us mourn the passing of Dot’s.
Incredibly, the owners – and the community – vowed to Rebuild.
In. The. Same. Spot.
Now, some might say, with justification, that this is insane. The restaurant washed away once, why build there? As far as I can tell, the answer is that this is how it is. Dot’s is on the river. The building was the post office, possibly the original post office for the town. Some of the building was left after the flood. I think, to some degree, that building there, using what was left of the original structure, is a shout of defiance against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. It is an echo of the Eternal Yea. Not so much triumph of man over nature, but triumph of the spirit of man over catastrophe.
And so, for the last year, the thought has been winkling its way into the common awareness that Dot’s Will Rise Again. And for the last month or so, there have been candles lit, in the finest New England tradition, in every window of the building, blazing out against the early darkness of the onset of winter.
And yesterday, as Roy entertained his little shred of hope again, and said “Can we drive by Dot’s to see when it’s going to be open?” one more time, to which I agreed as I always do, because he’s not the only one with the little shred of hope, we saw it. O-P-E-N. We nearly had a wreck, right there in the falling flurry. It’s open.
Dot’s Diner, in Wilmington, is open.
And if Dot’s can be open, then, really, anything is possible. Reindeer might fly, you know.
Today, I received a call from Roy, who was waiting in line to put the car into the municipal garage so that our driveway can get plowed tomorrow morning.
“You’re never going to believe this.” he said. “Dot’s is on the front page of the National News section of the New York Times.”
And so it is. Right here.
I am telling you, reindeer can fly.