Saturday, February 7, 2009

A day in Vermont

I'm going to post some archives-related stuff tomorrow, but I promised myself that I would take a day-long break from archivy. During the past week, I spent my days tearing through a high-priority project, devoted most of my evenings to planning next steps of said project, and in my spare time coordinated the response to some ill-informed and intemperate comments posted to the Archives and Archivists listserv. I think I've earned some downtime.

This afternoon, I went over to Bennington, Vermont, where I met my friend Sam, who is a professional landscape photographer. Today was her day off, so all of the images that follow are mine.

Sam likes photographing waterfalls, and she took me to several small falls in the Bennington area. We started out at the remains of the Pownal Tanning Company, which is located on the Hoosick River.

The falls were constructed in order to power the tannery's machinery. The building that housed the tannery was demolished some time after the facility closed in 1998 (and became a Superfund site), but parts of the machinery remain in place.

I would like to return to the Pownal Tannery site when it's less icy and investigate this machinery more closely.

Vermont has scores of small creeks that ultimately feed into the Hudson River or the Connecticut River, and many of these creeks have little waterfalls such as this one. Sam won an award for a photograph she took of this waterfall. However, she had to stand in the middle of the creek in order to get the shot. We opted against wading into the water today.

After a break for coffee, we went out to this snow-covered swamp adjacent to the Bennington Airport. We saw an enormous opossum while we were here, but it moved so quickly that I wasn't able to get a decent photograph of it. Sam, who pulled out her equipment when it became apparent that I was having problems, might have been more successful.

We then headed into the village of North Bennington, where this small waterfall is located. It was obviously built to power some sort of mill, but the mill itself is long gone.

Of all the pictures I took today, the above is my favorite. We were really losing daylight at this point, so I digitally increased the exposure just a bit; I think it looks even better when the exposure is increased even more, but I wanted the posted version to reflect the fact that it was taken late in the day.

And now for one of the oddest shots of the day. Just a stone's throw away from the waterfall pictured above is a red clapboard building that appears to be abandoned. It's surounded by old lawn tractors, plows, snowblowers, and at least one bandsaw. All of this equipment is so neatly aligned that it looks almost like agriculture in reverse: it's as if all of these tidy rows of aging implements are slowly returning to the soil (along with lots of oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, and who knows what else). We were really losing daylight at this point, so this picture got quite a bit of after-the-fact enhancement.

Sam and I parted ways shortly after the above picture was taken, and I headed back home to Albany. I'm glad I got to spend my afternoon with her and that I could devote at least a little time to something other than work. I hope that you enjoy these photos.

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