Friday, October 16, 2009

Bear Swamp


About seven miles up a windy, bumpy road from the abandoned stone home I wrote about yesterday was small community where my sister lived for a couple years. This community didn’t exist back when the stone house was occupied but established several years later. All the maps call it Bear Swamp and it was a marsh area until someone built a dam and created probably what was a sixty acre lake. There were some cottages built there; probably fewer than ten in total. Anytime someone called it Bear Swamp a resident would quickly correct you and make you call it Bear Lake.

My sister lived there because her husband was a police officer and the community felt safe having someone living there that could defend the community. They let them live there for free. My brother-in-law, being a man of vast frugality jumped at the opportunity even though one ever went up there. One needed keys and combination to several gates to get up there in the first place.

There was no electricity up there and I thought it to be quite the novelty to light the gas lamps on the walls any time I stayed with them. We had a battery radio and one of the main activities was to play Monopoly with some of the neighbors. Sometimes we played at my sister’s cabin, sometimes at the neighbors’ cabin.

There was a dock on the lake and I’d often go in their boat fishing for perch. The lake was great for swimming and even a swimmer with little confidence could swim to a large rock out cropping across the narrow outlet bay by the dam. I recall once swimming there and someone shouting from the dock “COPPER HEAD!” I looked and there was a copper head snake coming in my direction. I had never swum as fast before or since. The snake wasn’t after me; it was just swimming in the same direction which was the shortest path across the bay. I guess it was weary of the ruckus that was being made on the dock above where it lived and was going for the quieter side of the lake.

The lake has since been bought by the State, and those with homes there were allowed to live out their lives, but were unable to transfer their deeds to anyone else.

It’s funny how one thing leads to another. Heather sent me a photo of an abandoned place with got me thinking about abandoned places and then to an abandoned stone structure and finally to a community of lake cottages where I have many fond memories.

A post script on this post was that I was going to use a Google Earth photo of the lake, but it appears the State has taken out the dam and returned the lake to a swamp. I instead used a photo by Mary Ann McNeany that resembles what I remember, but there were no madrona trees at Bear Swamp.

11 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

Sounds like an idyllic place – rough & basic but still idyllic.
However, you failed to mention if there were actually any bears there...I’m assuming the name means there were/are...which would make it a far less appealing place for me.

4:42 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Yeah, I could do without the bears. I like seeing them from a distance but not having them up close and personal. Like copperheads and mooses (meese?). I like to think of myself as the occasional outdoorsman but I couldn't deal too long without electricity.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I think there should be more planned communities like that....so many people nowadays are longing to go back to a simpler existence. BUT....of course it will never happen. Heaven forbid the electric company lose money.

9:26 AM  
Blogger a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

i would have peed in the lake if the copperhead was swimming towards me. peed and passed out. worst nightmare ever.

10:42 AM  
Blogger richpix said...

Amy, there are plenty of people living off the grid in much more remote places. They live quite comfortably and don't give a nickel to any power companies.

3:41 PM  
Blogger dalia said...

hm. as i turn my head sideways to figure out what this pic is (and realizing it's a reflection on a lake), syd comes to mind, and i wonder what she'd think of this photo...

8:49 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, maybe there was one sighted there back in the day, but I never saw one. I saw more copper heads and rattlers there than anything. Bears were not a problem.

Darev, you left out corn fields.

Amy, the real charm was that they were small cottages and they were far enough form civilization that neighbors depended upon one another and socialized.

Irish, I said in the same direction I was swimming. I'm sure if I switched direction it would have continued where it was heading.

Rich, I've visited a few people that were off the grid of which you speak, but I usually find them insufferable by their self inflated superiority. They spend thousands to save hundreds. I think what Amy was going for is the old-timey community aspect. A small group of different types of people living in a place that isn't a political, religious or environmentalist compound for the like minded.

Dalia, you are so nasty. But now I see it, too. How did Syd miss that one.

6:07 AM  
Blogger RobbKidd said...

Just to add to your story. It's one of the few lakes I am scared to swim in. I caught a pickerel, and when I chained it up a copper head came up and tried to attack my fish. I think I was about ten.

The last time I was up there was about 5years ago before I moved to VT, and the damn was still there and there are no homes.

Ps-My mother was just visiting and of course she had to go to Cabot again...

6:09 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

What is Cabot?

Robb I may be mistaken about the dam being removed. I remember the back part of the lake being very weedy. The weeds may have taken over the entire lake. Check it out on a satellite view.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Bpaul said...

Just a note Mr. Rust -- Ms. McNeany would call that tree an Arbutus. That's local Canukistani parlance for the Madrone.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Guy said...

Noted, but I'll probably never have the occasion to write about that type of tree again.

8:30 AM  

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