May 20th, 2013
We live thirty miles inland along the old road to the coast, a road laid down on an early wagon track, which followed the Indian trace—a long day on sure feet giving way to oxcarts that took half the week to return from the sea with their burdens of salt hay. Now the coast is a scant hour’s drive along Broadway, North Lowell Street, Main, and also River Road and Water Street since the way sometimes skirts the muscular currents of the Merrimack, which salts at Newburyport, and pours into the Atlantic.
By the end of its journey the river is almost two hundred miles from the cold rose of its source in the White Mountains. In many places it flows through a yielding channel older than the ice ages. Where it courses over stubborn ledge, where the rock wears away at an incremental pace, are the waterfalls that were once the gathering places and fishing grounds of the Algonquin tribes. Merrimack is their word. River of sturgeon, swift water, strong place.
To the south of our fields and woods the river flows broad and braided and eastward. It is the strong line of our landscape. The low-lying hills slope towards its channel, and every vein of water—the icy melt and the murk, the mineral rich source and the field-drained runoff, waters that taste like metal on the tongue, waters redolent of balsam, and some of smoky tea—every vein drains into the Merrimack. Even the cut of the road depends on the river, since it nearly ghosts the water’s course though we sleep beyond earshot of a steady current, lulled instead by the fine-tuned motors of the night freight trucks that approach and then pass.
From “Here and Nowhere Else: Late Seasons of a Farm and Its Family” by Jane Brox (Beacon Press, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Jane Brox. Reprinted with permission of the author and Beacon Press.
See more writing from the region at The Bridge Review: Merrimack Valley Culture
December 17th, 2012
“The Bridge Review: Merrimack Valley Culture” is an online bio-regional magazine that was launched in the late 1990s. After publishing several issues, the original editors rested. The beauty of the web, of course, is that the previous issues remained available to interested readers. With the coming of the 2012 Bread and Roses Centennial Project in Lawrence, UMass Lowell Prof. Bob Forrant proposed a special issue of “The Bridge Review” that he would edit with former UML faculty member Charles Levenstein, an economist and public health scholar who is also a poet. Contributors of poems and songs about work, Labor, and industry, include Martin Espada, Michael Casey, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and Billy Bragg. The result is now available.
Read the poetry and music selections in this special issue here.
Past issues of “The Bridge Review” are available here.
March 4th, 2011
Corey Sciuto on Facebook posted about a bioregional quiz, which prompted me to share this information about the online bioregional journal “The Bridge Review: Merrimack Valley Culture” that was published between 1997 and 2005. Five issues of the eclectic anthology were published. “The Bridge Review” branched off, so to speak, from the Flowering City Forum community dialogue site that grew from my work with then-UMass Lowell professors David Landrigan and Charles Nikitopoulos and Clementine Alexis of the Human Services Corp. of Lowell. The four of us collaborated for several years in the Building Community Through Culture program of the New England Foundation for the Arts. The web design work is by Ferney Lopez of the UMass Lowell web team. Editorial assistants included Matt Miller, Dave Robinson, and Nora Marchand. The five issues are a treasure house of creative and scholarly work from the region. You’ll see many familiar names on the Contents pages.
See back issues of “The Bridge Review” here.