Quarry

text and haiku by Kristen Lindquist

This morning I participated in a Land Trust outing at the Simonton Quarry Preserve in Rockport. This property is currently owned by the Nature Conservancy, but we’ve managed it for many years. Still, this was my first visit, in part because quarries give me the creeps. Those impenetrable black depths… given all the junk that gets left on the property in plain sight, who knows what might be down there in that water, or how deep? Today our findings were innocuous–beer bottles and a big TV face-down in cattails, dumped off the back wall of the first quarry.

Walking around the edges of the quarries was sometimes challenging, and I felt an irrational fear that I was going to trip on something I couldn’t see, fall from atop one of the sheer cliff walls of this depthless crater, and end up in that cold, dark water. But that didn’t stop me from scrambling up the rocks with the others to get a sense of these strange, man-made water bodies, which twisted back into the woods beyond our sight.

The quarries are a historic remnant of Rockport’s past as a center for lime production. Limestone was quarried and then shipped by train to the big kilns on the waterfront. We found abutments of cut stone and old cement pads where machinery had once poised. Across the road from the quarries, flanking Goose River, several tailings piles cobbled the woods with randomly strewn, sharp-angled, loose rocks that were a challenge to walk over.

Amid the awkward human landscape, spots of wild beauty: bright green foliose lichen growing like an arboreal lettuce patch on some tree trunks, twisted old apple trees, little ruby-crowned kinglet acrobatically exploring a birch tree, great blue heron flying down river. Climbing atop the highest tailings pile afforded a great view of nearby farm fields and fall-tinged trees along the river. And the others in the group spotted a fish in one of the quarries, which I was intrigued by. How did it get there? Were there others, or was it alone in that vast, carved stone bucket of black water?

Yellow leaves floating
on water the deep black
of dilated pupils.