We ran the Mud Pond Loop again this weekend. It is becoming one of my absolute favorite places. I’ve decided it feels like a neighborhood. Truly. There is the block that has the church on the corner (the hushed and magical red pines), the grid of streets filled with houses (the tried and true Vermont maples) and the occasional house with the animal in the backyard (remember those crazy yellow giraffe-birches?) Yeah, it feels like a cozy and vibrant neighborhood. A community, really.
This time, we came upon a stone wall in the middle of our run. It was long, extending the length of a long downhill section of the trail. Although it is probably over eighty years old, all of the stones still fit together like a puzzle, rock shapes complimenting other rock shapes. We ran on one side of the wall and I couldn’t help but wonder: Who had lived here? And who had lived there—on the other side?
It made me think of Dark Water by Laura McNeal. In her incredible story, a boy lives in the forest. And the trees and the river are his neighborhood. It is strange—but not so strange—to think about people living in Mud Pond. Actually, Mud Pond—like much of Vermont’s forest—used to be farmland. Eighty or so years ago, this tree community didn’t exist. Instead, sheep roamed fields. It is kind of amazing to me. Eighty years is not that long ago. And these trees are big, you know? And there are a lot of them.
So strange to think of a landscape changing so drastically.
At that sheep farm time, Vermont was something like eighty percent farmland and twenty percent forest. Now it is the opposite. One neighborhood evolving into another. A community of people and animals evolving into a community of trees. I kind of want to live there with them. Or at least visit for tea.