So, I admitted to my utter dorkiness in emailing author Scott Russell Sanders, but I actually recieved a reply!! Some excerpts:
“I send a thank you letter in return. It’s always heartening to learn that something I’ve written has spoken to a reader. It’s especially heartening for me to learn of such a response from a reader who has shared some of my geography. What I appreciate most about your message is the description of the rewilding of the land around the West Branch Reservoir. I’ve always felt conflicted about the building of that dam, not only because much of my childhood landscape was drowned, but also because it strikes me as another expression of our human arrogance. At the same time, I am all in favor of conserving land for wildlife and for the recreation and replenishment of human beings. It’s ironic that the Arsenal’s very contamination has made it fit for no human uses aside from practicing for war, and thus has allowed it to remain a haven for wildlife.
As it happens, I’ve written more directly about the building of that dam and about Wayland itself in an earlier book, Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World (Beacon Press, 1993). The opening chapter, “After the Flood,” recounts my reaction to the drowning of that landscape. The final chapter is called “Wayland,” and tells of the memories stirred in me by a return visit to that place. If you read Staying Put, you may find some factual errors in my account of Wayland, because it was written from a distance, in time and space, and I had to rely on memory. But at least the book gives an accurate description of how the place stays with me.
Thanks for your letter. All blessings.