Once upon a time, Brant Lake was only a stream coming down from the Spuytin Duyvil, over a beaver dam and entering into the Schroon River. From the Schroon, the humble drops of water found their way into the Hudson and then the Atlantic. The flow continued across the ocean and, perhaps, that water we now know as Brant Lake may have been the first local visitors to England!
But that was long ago, before the advent of the logging industry. Then, to carry the logs, boats such as the Thayendenoga, needed a wider waterway and thus the stream was dammed. Brant Lake, an artificial lake, had come into existence.
Over the years, when the water was too high, planks of the dam would be removed to prevent overflow. A year ago, the dam was rebuilt, complete with a pneumatic bladder that would rise and lower automatically.
Man conquers nature!
But the residents of Brant Lake were not necessarily satisfied. Those living up the lake wanted the water level to be one height; those in town, near the site of the former general store, or the bicycle shop, argued for a different flow of water. It is impossible to satisfy everyone! But at least nature was under control thanks to the dam.
Or so we believed.
Then, this summer nature launched a protest march and no one could control the rain. For 40 days and 40 nights, (almost), it rained and rained and rained. Local engineers contemplated constructing an ark. Two of every kind. Two loons, two bald eagles, two chipmunks, two porcupines and, since there was not a unicorn to be found in the North Woods or on Amazon, one moose. At night, residents dreamed of the ark floating on Brant Lake, next to kayaks and paddle boards. Posters would announce “No Ones Ark” and tourists would flock to see this revised edition of the bible.
But the rain didn’t stop. Those of a religious nature gathered their worshipers and, eyes fixed on the heavens, they sang: “You Are My Sunshine!” a tribute to the Sun God. Ducks left the lake for lawns where they could have their own swimming pool, and Canada geese flew back to Canada where it might be drier.
In the local diner with the intriguing name, “My Mouth Waters––Best Food In The Adirondacks” people argued about whether or not the dam was too high or too low. But it had nothing to do with the damn dam. ”Don’t blame the dam if your dock is floating away and your raft disappears without Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn aboard. Don’t blame the dam if all the fish in the lake end up in your basement–making them easier to catch. Don’t blame the dam if someone’s red inflated plastic elephant comes to visit! Simply accept the fact that the dam, the work of human hands, has been defeated in its eternal battle with nature. That is the phenomena that keeps us humble, a reminder that with all of our technological advances, the self-help books, the weight watchers diet, we have only limited control over our lives and over our world.