Every so often, the creek floods and uncovers what’s been hidden for years- even decades. Ancient relics have been hidden away under years of gravel and mud. Hidden from the light of day, and elements of the environment, anything that becomes buried by time will likely last- until the next flood rips away the cover that’s tucked it in the creek’s bed for a century or so.
Last Sunday my Dad woke me up with a synopsis: “I was checking the other side of the bank after the flood and I saw something sticking out of the water… “ That something, it turns out, was a millstone that had been revealed by the recent flood in the past week. No stranger to these weird outlandish precursors to stories, I got out of bed, pulled on jeans and a sweatshirt, and headed down to the dam.
Lo and behold, a circular figure gleamed in the morning air as dad and I stared down at the algae-blanketed stone. I was handed a rock rake and a shovel, and I started digging the millstone out of the gravel. When we could, we threaded and tied a ratchet strap around the center and outer circumference – through the “donut hole” as we call it. Then we started hauling it out with the Kubota (inches at a time), using 2×4 planks as sliders on the side of the bank. From there, we were able to determine its age by the algae and freshwater vegetation growing on the more deeply submerged sides of the millstone.
Since last week, the stone has moved from the other side of the bank to our front lawn. It sits by the wall overlooking the dam, under the maple tree that might even predate the stone itself. Running my hand over the deep and worn lands and furrows of the stone, I have to wonder what history has bypassed the banks of Castle Valley, as the water rolled over this relic of industry for the past century. WWI. The stock market crash. The great depression. WWII. The birth of Rock n’ Roll. The Korean conflict, the Nuclear War scare, Vietnam, the birth of every family member who has and currently resides at Castle Valley. It was there. Frozen in time, sitting, sidelined from the world of daylight and sky, patiently waiting in the cool mud of the creek…