Everything, Including the Kitchen Sink

  • Volunteer John White, of Hartland, helps fellow volunteer Tom Potter, of Enfield, load a canoe with camp debris from isolated peninsula on Smith Pond on Saturday, July 22, 2017. (Alison Marchione photograph) Alison Marchione photograph

  • Volunteer Tom Potter, of Enfield, shuttles canoe-load of rusted box springs from isolated peninsula on Smith Pond on Saturday, July 22, 2017. (Alison Marchione photograph) Alison Marchione photograph

  • Volunteer Evan Potter of Enfield, N.H., shuttles loads of camp debris from isolated peninsula on Smith Pond on Saturday, July 22, 2017. (Alison Marchione photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/23/2017 12:50:45 AM
Modified: 7/23/2017 12:50:46 AM

Enfield — The rowboat was already riding as much in as on Smith Pond, with bulging bags of faded cans and bottles and insulation, rusting bedsprings and pieces of appliances, and other debris from a camp that time forgot.

Waiting in the only horizontal space with room to sit and row on Saturday morning, Thetford resident Doug Biddle looked up to see Upper Valley Land Trust land steward Alison Marchione on the edge of the isolated peninsula that Marchione, UVLT stewardship director Jason Berard, Biddle and five other volunteers were clearing of the remains of a former camp.

“Where’s the kitchen sink?” Biddle asked with a smile.

“Over here,” Marchione said, peering to her left through the thicket of blueberries and around a 7-foot-high pile of brush, where Berard was dismantling two vintage washing machines and a refrigerator. “Literally.”

And the beat went on, over a mild, overcast morning during which Biddle in the rowboat and Enfielders Evan Potter and his father, Tom Potter, in separate canoes, would each shuttle several loads from the peninsula on the south shore of the pond across to the north.

On the other side, land trust steward Doug Brown and volunteer Pam White unloaded trash bag after bedframe after washing-machine tub and agitator and wringer after decaying barbecue grill after strip of sheet metal after strip of window screening after rollout cot and packed them into and onto Brown’s Toyota pickup truck, and into volunteer Sarah Martel’s GMC, for trips to the Lebanon landfill. By noon, all that remained on the peninsula were several piles of brush, which Gregory Baker, a neighbor to the nearly 1,000 acres on and around the pond that the land trust bought late in 2015, had already pulled together. Next winter, the UVLT will burn those piles, along with the doorframes and pallets and other wooden debris from yesterday’s cleanup.

Oh, and the shell of that refrigerator? Berard said the land trust might enlist a snowmobile club to haul it across the pond after it freezes.

And as the years go on, the land trust, through its Smith Pond Shaker Forest Conservation Initiative, aims to gradually improve upon and augment a system of trails and otherwise encourage low-impact recreation on its acreage between the Lower Shaker State Wildlife Management Area to the north and the Henry Laramie State Wildlife Management Area to the south.

In all, close to 6,000 contiguous acres, where bear and moose roam, where wood turtles swim, where dragonflies flit and loons are nesting among the hills between Route 4A and Interstate 89, are protected from development.

“It’s a nice mosaic,” Brown, who has worked with the land trust for four years, said on the ride up to the pond. “Now that the shoreline’s all protected, there won’t be some mega-home up here.”

After Biddle pulled out with his first load on Saturday, Evan Potter returned from a delivery and started arranging bedsprings, buckets, sheet metal, trash bags and more debris that Marchione, Berard, Martel, White’s husband, John, and Potter’s mother, Kim, were relaying to shore.

Just when it looked like the canoe couldn’t hold more as much as another bolt or latch, Martel, a Thetford resident, and Berard came bearing the refrigerator door.

“We’ll make it work,” Evan Potter said. While her son eased out into the pond, somehow maintaining his and the canoe’s balance while paddling from his knees, Kim Potter said, “Oh, brother ...” To which Evan replied, “Where art thou?” before adding, “I’ll try not to leave the door on the bottom of Smith Pond.”

The Potters, who live on Mascoma Lake, said they have been recreating on and around the pond for years with the permission of Baker, who late last year granted the land trust a conservation easement on his 50-plus acres. Evan especially enjoys fishing for smallmouth bass and pickerel in the pond.

“I have a chart,” Potter said. “I want to say that it’s something like 45 feet at the deepest point.”

Shakers on Mascoma Lake created the pond in the first half of the 1800s by damming a chain of lily ponds. Two families of Shakers eventually built a mile of canals for water power to their shops and mills on the Mascoma. After the Shakers died out, the dam deteriorated for decades, and the pond with it. Baker spent years restoring the dam, and in 2010, a year after completing the project, a pair of loons recolonized the pond. “We used to come up in the winter, but haven’t seen it in 20 years or so,” John White said. “It’s just a cool place.”

Doug Brown recalls having “no idea” how cool, during years of driving along Interstate 89.

“The first time I came up here,” he said. “I was stunned that this exists.”

And now it’s that much cleaner, for human visitors and wild residents alike.

“It’s a lot of effort,” Martel said while carrying another load to another boat, “but it feels so good to do something tangible.”

David Corriveau can be reached at 603-727-3304 or dcorriveau@vnews.com.

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