Excavation #2: Crown Point

In Vermont on May 4, 2011 at 12:00 am

The Excavation series is excerpted from my MFA thesis, entitled Ruins. These short chapters deal with youthful imagination and an increasing desire to explore the world. Photograph of Colonial re-enactors, Pennsylvania.

I knew this: Crown Point looked like a star. As I ran along the walls, I tried to feel its colossal shape. Twisting around a turn, I felt the pointed edge of the battlements. And it was only by somersaulting down the walls, sliding along the grassy incline, that I could relish their height.

For a fort, Crown Point was open and covered in grass. There were no tickets booths, no doors, no docents to guide me through. When we visited on summer days, there were hardly any people. In social studies, I was told that Crown Point was one of the biggest forts in North America. The space inside was like a soccer field: vast and empty, except for the mown grass.

The barracks were long stone buildings, but the roofs had long collapsed and the chimneys jutted into the sky. The empty windows and doorways caught the wind and whistled. I would explore room after room, hop into a great hall, spy around corners—as if, at any moment, I might surprise the ghost of a colonial soldier. To me, the barracks were still haunted with minutemen, and they lugged their rucksacks and muskets into the present, eager for coming battle.

“Okay, we need to get going,” Mom would say.

And I would run one last time—up the grassy walls, to the flat apex, and I’d see the moat, the fields, the lake, the steel-blue mountains on all sides. The breeze would sweep my teeth and narrowed eyes. And I concentrated, because I wanted this one thing—to see and feel what they saw and felt. To pinch two hundred years into oblivion. To become that time. To breathe their air. To smell the same fireplace smoke. To feel the itch of their wool.

Looking again, I saw the parking lot. The ranks of cars. Mom waving. I’d think: So close.


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