Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 7: Old mill

My husband and I have a new writing room: a rented office/studio space in the renovated Knox Woolen Mill building in the heart of downtown Camden. Our windows are directly over one of the dams that used to be part of the millworks. In fact, the controls to the dam itself are located in a corner of our studio, with a little sign indicating how long it takes to raise or lower the dam. Since we've gotten a lot of rain, the river is still running high. The drop over the dam is substantial, creating a vigorously churning waterfall that will serve us effectively as a white noise machine when we're hard at work.

The big windows of our third floor studio frame an interesting view. On the other side of the river sits the part of the old mill that was converted to condominiums, several of which boast nice decks. A mature oak tree grows up through a hole cut into one deck, its leafy branches blocking a view of Mount Battie which we will undoubtedly enjoy come winter. If you lean out the window, the mill's smokestack rises high into blue sky above the mill buildings and the fast-moving river. On the mill pond of calm water behind the dam, a family of geese hangs out amid the reeds. And on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons, the Camden Farmers' Market is visible through the trees in the mill parking lot.

When I was five, we lived for a while with my great-grandmother in her apartment across the street from the mill. It was still very much a working mill then, and I remember hearing the daily whistles for lunchtimes and shift changes, as well as the machinery clacking away day and night. I had to walk past the mill to get to kindergarten, and I always hurried over the dark, turbulent river as it flowed beneath the mill and under the street on its way to the harbor. Thanks to my great-grandmother's vivid warnings, I could imagine all too well what would happen to me if I fell in. Now my studio overlooks that very stretch of river. Hopefully it will once again spark my imagination.

White water: white noise.
I lose my thoughts in the falls,
river of childhood.
View of the old mill buildings from a neighboring office

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