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The Road No Longer Taken

We are getting ready to build a second childcare center, and next week our contractor will clear another two-acre lot for us in Centerra. I’ve been tramping through the land for a year now, both to take measurements and, also, to get a feel for the space. At one end of the property, what seems to be an old wagon track runs through the woods. Two ruts in the ground go in parallel for about forty yards, before they are erased by sitework done over the years by our first childcare project, the Marriott, and the Grafton County Courthouse:

Lot 5 Track.jpg

The lot has been forest for at least 70-80 years, probably since the farm there was abandoned when the federal government mandated that all dairy farms have refrigerated bulk tanks to store their milk. That rule was the last straw for a good many farmers, hence the name “bulk tank farms” to describe so-abandoned pieces of land. Stone walls delineate the former pastures in every direction, too, as they do throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

How many farmers and travellers went down that dirt road, either on foot, driving carts pulled by horses or oxen, or on tractors? They compacted the earth to such an extent that nothing could grow on it, and so the road stayed visible in the forest like an ancient Roman byway. Next year it will be gone, and the memories that it evokes will disappear forever.

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