After putting the word out in Connecticut, my friend Caitlin and I collected a mountain of food, clothes and supply donation for flood relief in Vermont that barely fit into her suv, and headed north for my hometown of Wilmington. I was unsure if we could, or even should go there, because of the dire state of the roads. But with all the conflicting information on the internet about what was going on there, and what they needed, I had to go find out myself.
We weren't sure if the route we chose would even be passable. It was, but barely. In many places the road was more then half gone, fallen into the creeks, and just a few orange cones directed you to drive precariously around it. There is so much to fix, with such massive amounts of new rock and fill to be brought in, it seems an impossible task.
In Wilmington we dropped off our carload, and drove to my old house, formerly the Fjord Gate Inn and Farm. I was obsessed with the idea that the bones of my horse, who we'd buried next to a pond, had been uprooted and floated away. The grave was fine, the inn now whitewashed and seemingly long-since closed for business, our old pastures and barn completely overgrown and abandoned. The bridge next to it missing a large triangular chunk of cement. It was apocalyptic. It was a strange thing to see.
In downtown, the volunteer work crews had wound down for the day and not many people were around other then police guarding the closed road areas. I checked on the places I could get to that had been intrinsic to my youth. Happily, Memorial Hall, the place I fell into theatre, looked pretty good, being slightly on a hill.
But just next door, the Incurable Romantic, once filled with fairies, victorian hats and all sorts of things that I coveted, was now full of the grey toxic muck that came with the flood and clings to everything. Across the street, the relocated Bartleby's Books, is gutted, nothing left. And the 111 year old Dot's Diner, the only place a teenager in the 80s could afford to hangout, is a broken box balancing on a few lose rocks on the edge of the river, the roads fallen in like a moat all around it. A few guys lingered on the porch of an unidentifiable restaurant nearby with a box of dusty liquor bottles, drinking beer and kindly offered us some.
The dramatic ancient cemetery where I idled many hours drawing grave stones as a teenager was thankfully ok.
We didn't stay long, wanting to get off the roads before dark and new rain. The ride home with the pink sunset over the silvery grey coated fields offered a whole new palette of light probably not seen in many places.
I'm happy we got some donations in, but with Vermonters worried most about their roads above all, I'll wait before going in again. I am glad I saw my hometown. Despite not having been back in a dozen years, I found pieces of me are still there, uncovered from their burial grounds by the hungry water. Back home in my untouched coastal house in Connecticut, I pick over the river-washed bones.