Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A Drowned Village, An Invisible Road

On our way back from Queenstown last visit, we were struck by how calm Lake Dunstan was and stopped to take photos.

Robert's a fan of the panoramic.

I prefer the straightforward approach, capturing the square.

I can never look at the lake and the town of Cromwell as it is now, without remembering the part of the town that used to be visible, before the Cromwell Dam was built.
That part of the Cromwell I remember, is now under water. A drowned village. And whenever I'm travelling on the present highway, zipping along and around the edge of the slow and heavy, man-made Lake Dunstan, I always remember the narrow, winding road far below that we used to travel on in Robert's parent's teal Austin 1100. The road that ran alongside a swift and crooked, fast-flowing river, but which now lies at the bottom of the lake.
I am warning myself a lot lately, not to be tethered to the past. I don't want to go into the rest of my future so dragged down by chains of the past, that I am in danger of missing the total experience that the present has to offer.
Even so, when in the vicinity of the relatively newly-created Lake Dunstan, the past still tugs at me through an image of drowned buildings and streets, and an invisible narrow road; one that once faithfully followed the natural curves and valley contours alongside the Clutha when it was a vigorous, free-flowing
The takeover by the present reality of a sleeker, more efficient, modern highway following a sluggish, fat dammed river, fails to impress me as much.
Maybe I'm deluding myself, thinking that the old road and those old streets and buildings need me to keep remembering them.
To shake off these sleeve-pulling memories, I take myself in hand, instructing myself to stop over-thinking, to just dwell on the lovely colours and play of light on the skin of wide Lake Dunstan. I make concerted efforts to appreciate the result of humans daring to rein in the mighty forces of nature. The dam. It's pretty impressive.
But at other times, I know that I am kidding myself.
I did prefer it the way it was.


Avus said...

I feel very much the same about drowned valleys, too Kay. We have a few such around here which were once delightful wealden countryside with small villages, which are now reservoirs. As to being tied to the past - don't let go completely. Without your memories the past dies, as do individuals. If we live on in another's memories we are never truly dead.

Kay Cooke said...

Thank you Avus. I am getting the message about not letting go of the past too quickly. I just don't want to be one of those people who are always reminiscing ... I guess there's a balance; as in all things.

J.T. Webster said...

I so know how you feel! We drove up that way a coule of weeks ago and all I could think about was the beautiful Cromwell Gorge and how sad that it's lost. But I do have to concede that as we took a stroll along the lake's edge at dusk, that the lake does have some beauty - just a lttle :)

Dona Bogart said...

The lake scenery is stunningly beautiful, but as I pictured the winding road by the river, it was even more beautiful. I would love to see the drowned village before it was drowned. You took me on a nice little trip. Thank you.

Kay Cooke said...

Sue - Yes, we are so often torn between what is and what was.

Dona - Thank you. I guess we can look at it as being in two worlds at the same time - not a bad thing, albeit tinged with sadness.


'how this all harbours light'