[I sent a copy home] … “for several reasons. On some level there is the visceral surge of familiarity that my father and his wife will enjoy. We, too, judge every church by the one in Wayland. We understand how the houses shook (yes, all the way in Wayland they did – right up until the Arsenal closed in the mid-1980’s) when the unstable munitions were detonated underground. …
I reeled from your anger and frustration with the Michael J. Kirwan dam, at being uprooted by the flooding of the river. I used to imagine what it would have been like to live in those houses – concrete foundations we floated over while fishing, or stumbled across while riding horses or hiking in the land that was reclaimed by wilderness. West Branch State Park was my back yard, my retreat, my haven. The wildness that used to be contained by the chainlink and razorwire of the Arsenal has leaked out into acres and acres of lake and woods. The mountain lions are back, and the coyote are still there. Eagles find sufficient space to nest there. I hope it might bring some comfort, to know this was the fate of your home on Esworthy Road. The land is still loved and cherished, though wilder and freer than you could have imagined.
Deer and predators alike can clear the Arsenal’s unpatrolled fence without a problem. The National Guard uses the Arsenal for training, and the Army is slowly trying to clean it up, though there will never be a use for that land beyond housing the wildlife there. The contamination runs too deep, and the landmines and secrets are too many to remove entirely. Little wonder the Cold War seems slower to retreat in the minds and hearts of folks living around there.
More than anything, this is a thank you letter. Thank you for the wonder of discovering an overlapping landscape with someone who has lived an entire generation ahead of me, who has moved around the country in the opposite direction and who has still come to the same bright, startling conclusions. “