Guest Post by Anna Goodling
The Floating Bridge~One of Vermont’s hidden secrets, lies in the small Vermont town of Brookfield, affectionately called “Pond Village” by the locals. The New England village is located along one side of Sunset Lake, its houses and barns hugging the shoreline. The whole village is miniscule – perched there on the edge of the lake, crowded between water and the rise of the Vermont mountains. The one dirt road is scarcely wide enough for two cars to pass. The town of Brookfield is the proud possessor of one of the last floating bridges in the country, spanning from one side of Sunset Lake to the other. This bridge is so loved, in fact, that it even has its own Wikipedia and Facebook pages. The Floating Bridge of Sunset Lake, first built in 1820, was originally built due to the depth of the lake – the water was too deep for a traditional bridge to be installed.
Some of my fondest childhood memories center around this bridge. The inhabitants of Brookfield, my family included, would gather at the lakeshore on hot summer days, playing in the shallows or swimming out past the point where the dark, sandy bottom suddenly dropped off in a ledge of bedrock and algae. Children would splash beneath the weeping branches of the overhanging willow, searching for crawdads beneath stones and lifting them out of the water by their tails. There was an art to catching these malevolent little creatures, I remember, and the lucky child who managed to pull one out unscathed became an instant celebrity.
A small green sward ran back from the water, edged with a few crabapple trees and a picket fence lined with wild rose bushes. Picnic blankets would be spread across the grass on sunny days, turning the green into a patchwork of color.The giant willow tree hung out over the water in one corner, and in another stood a granite statue of two hippopotami. The silvery stone was polished bright and smooth by the hands of countless children, petting the animals’ noses and sliding down their sloping backs.
Sometimes, when the sun was out and the water magnetically inviting, every child in the town of Brookfield would walk out on the floating bridge and climb up on the railing. When cars drove by with their windows rolled down, the children would jump from the posts, timing their flight just right to splash the car and soak its occupants.
The floating bridge was also a prime fishing spot. Strung up along the telephone wires that ran across the lake above the bridge hung many bobbers and fishing weights, wrapped about the lines when the unfortunate fisherman cast his rod a little too enthusiastically. There was always a plethora of old men with fishing rods along the bridge, all happy to talk with any passersby about the luck of their catch.
All these things came to a halt in 2008, however, when the bridge was deemed unsafe and closed to traffic. Since then, the town of Brookfield has struggled to gain funding to rebuild their iconic bridge, beloved both by the locals and the many tourists who flood Brookfield in the fall to drive across the bridge and gaze at the bright Autumn foliage. At last, however, they have succeeded in raising enough money, and the bridge was rebuilt and opened for traffic earlier this month. My family and I went to see it, and walk across the lake once more. The locals had all turned out as well, and Sunset Lake is once more the scene of fishermen, boaters, and swimmers, just as it should be and has been for millennia past.
Guest Post by Anna Goodling, a college senior, studying English and Dance at a small liberal arts college in western Michigan. Anna grew up in Brookfield, VT, and now lives with her family at Vermont Grand View Farm when she is not at school. Anna is passionate about both writing and photography. You can find her creative writing and photographic work at her blog, Off The Farm, and browse her Flickr page for a more complete collection of her photography.