Thursday, June 12, 2003

When I took the train from Montreal to NYC, it took a route along Lake Champlain. Historians working voluntarily with the Forest Service came aboard, to give a talk all the way along the long lake, pointing out areas of historical and geographical interest as we passed them. There were two volunteers, a man and woman both wearing green shirts tucked in, and ties, and it was hard to tell if they were a couple or not. But I digress. One of the stories they told was of an island in the northern end of the lake where goats had been put back in 18--, to try and get rid of all the poison ivy. The goats stayed there all summer and lived quite happily, munching on leaves, hanging out on the beach, making babies. But when the snow fell and the ice froze over, all the goats ran away, never to return. Foolish goats with wanderlust!

Another story they told was of a war (there were a lot of stories about wars; a lot of wars happened around that lake) where some poor captain of a ship woke abruptly when the head of one of his men flew into his stomach; it had been torn off by a cannonball, or something.

All of that history, and what I remember most were the small patches of wild columbines that grew in the crevices in the iron rock. The train route was blasted through these outcroppings and the width of them had been measured perfectly. Often all I would see would be bright coral-red smidgens very close to the window as we flew past them.

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