When I was ten my father, never a company man, quit his job at Peck Stowe in Southington, Connecticut and moved us out of a historic Saltbox house in the suburbs to an old hill farm in North Charlestown, New Hampshire. The farm was on the Little Sugar River, a trout stream, and the state would dump fishery raised rainbow trout over the bridge in front of our house in spring. My brother and father were disdainful of these tame trout, as they were of the brown trout who my father said could live in a sewer.
When they fished they fished for brook trout, who lived in pools shaded by hemlock boughs.
The little farm, with its meager pasture was really no farm at all.There were four or five stanchions in the small barn but the dairy cows they once held were long dead. My father had bought the place as a summer house, but after a few years we moved in.
The Little Sugar in winter was a hard frozen river, small and no good for skating. But every man and boy with cabin fever dreamed of nights in March when the ice melted enough for the river to "go out" with a grinding crash that sent the ice out into the Connecticut River. When the ice went out trout season was close.
Though we fished near our house, we liked better to go out towards Unity, New Hampshire along the river over a succession of little bridges. Morse's Bridge. Dexter's Bridge. Some of the bridges had swimming holes, though not in chilly trout season.
The road went by pastures , by stands of hemlocks where the Blackburnian warblers nested,by fields with blossoming wild strawberries.Our destination was a place called Twin Bridges, and it was my favorite place, not for the fishing, which I was never good at ,but for the wildflowers such as the shy, creeping trailing arbutus and the painted trillium. Both grew at the Bridges in the shadow of a 15 foot tall "erratic"
, a round rock stranded by glaciers as they retreated and melted away eons ago when the White Mountains were still young.
I loved that rock. I loved to climb it. I visited spring and summer. And years later, when I returned to visit from Tennessee, I took my dogs and drove out to see it.
It was gone, blasted and bombed away by a soulless highway department. And the river had been dredged, and there would be no painted trilliums. I do not know where the trout were.
There were A-frame houses where the wild orchids once grew , and the police found the body of a murdered girl in a field by Dexter's Bridge, where I once picked wild strawberries.
I regretted thinking I could go back.
That is not the way the world is made.