Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Seeing Lake Champlain

My daughter and I love Burlington, Vermont. Our first experience with the city was several years ago while visiting various colleges. UVM was one. She decided against the school, but we’ve gone back to the city. I’ll admit we live the good life while there and stay at the Wyndham (once the Radisson) with a window on the lake. Literally. The view fills your room with blue water and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance.

Some creation data of the lake from the Leahy Center:
The last glacier that covered the Lake Champlain Basin was so heavy that it depressed the land in the Basin below sea level. About 13,300 years ago this glacier retreated past the St. Lawrence Valley and the Atlantic Ocean rushed in to the Basin. This process formed the Champlain Sea. The Champlain Sea lasted approximately 2,800 years and was home to animals such as the beluga whale. About 10,500 years ago Lake Champlain formed when the land in the Basin rebounded and was once again above sea level. The saltwater in the Champlain Sea flowed north and emptied into the Atlantic Ocean.

According to Abenaki legend, the Lake Champlain Basin was created by Odzihozo. Odzihozo was a creature made of dust, which moved earth to shape the mountains. As this creature tried to stand, he reached to the tops of the mountains and gouged out deep valleys which then filled with water and became rivers. The deep lake (Lake Champlain) formed when Odzihozo stood up. Abenaki call the lake ‘‘Bitôwbakw,’’ meaning ‘‘the waters in-between.’’
Standing at the wall-length windows, you are in both lakes.
Sonnet August Twenty

The first time I cast away for Burlington
I hitchhiked a Vermont heat wave with my ex-roommate.
He had drifted his senior year (I was a freshman)
tacking through misty days while zigzagging a route
towards his dreamt-of draft deferral from island asthma.
Anyway we anchored the night at Champlain College
bunking with some buddies of his. Next morning we sailed
in their rust-bucket cruising due north, ferrying us over
the border—where we’d thumb our passage to Montreal.
But duffels were customs-checked, and though nothing
            was caught,
we were turned away. This was deep in the draft of the sixties
—or I’d been his fish and story for leaving the country.
Anyway we landed the night once again at Champlain,
cruising home at dawn. And I never did see the Lake.

~Son Rivers 2005

2 comments:

Jilly said...

I ate at a cool diner in Burlington--Blue Diner? I can't remember the name of it. It was an old school diner....

Greg said...

Jilly, maybe Henry's Diner? That one's a block off of downtown and has wicked good breakfasts. Excellent place.