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THE WARNING OF THE WATERMILL


THE WARNING OF THE WATERMILL

Poem by Richard Holding

Vitruvius Molinus made me,
With wheel and stone and leat,
While cohorts marched against the tribes
Westward on Watling Street.

Four generations tended me,
Till the Legions recall to Rome;
But a Molinus stayed to work my mill—
He knew no other home.

When invading hordes had settled down
And village life was born,
The sokeman and villeins needed me
To grind the Saxon corn.

I was listed in William’s Domesday book,
As were five thousand more;
I tendered my tax in “sticks of eels”,
According to Norman law.

For centuries have I worked away,
Whatever line was in power;
I garnered the local harvest
And ground it into flour.

Men said then that the power of steam
Was a more efficient way;
So my weir, my leat, my wheel collapsed,
And I began to decay.

Then a “property developer” rebuilt me,
With deal and glass and point,
He turned me into a restaurant,
Described as “rather quaint.”

He took out all my machinery,
Hung my artifacts on the wall,
Displayed my sluice behind plate glass,
As a “picturesque waterfall.”

Perhaps when you’ve used all your North Sea oil,
And your fossil fuel is done,
You’ll remember I was once a watermill,
And rivers will always run.

Proverb: “The mill cannot grind With the water that is past.”

Kendall Mill
This grist mill was built by my ancestor Francis Kendall for grinding corn in mid 1600’s, near the town of Woburn, Massachusetts for which he was a founder. He and his brother arrived in America in 1630.

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10 comments on “THE WARNING OF THE WATERMILL

  1. Very true. Lots of wise sayings and proverbs have their origins steeped in the past and many are of a practical nature. How could one argue against the one above?.

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    • We are so wasteful; and we never learn do we? Even when the governments in their wisdom do expensive surveys to alleviate a problem, it ends up in a draw and accomplishing nothing. The California alchemists have been “talking” about changing sea water into drinking water for years. Now that we actually need it—still talking.

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      • Sydney, while suffering a severe drought some years ago, put in a desalination plant that worked very well. I am not sure if it is still in use. We have had the drought break at least in Sydney.

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  2. But at what cost? We are still dry and waiting.

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  3. When we were going through our drought cycle in 2010-2011, I came to think of it as a slow-motion disaster. This week has brought the volcanic eruption in Chile and now the earthquake in Nepal: terrible, heart-wrenching events, but of a different nature.

    Waiting for rain was a terrible experience, that brought home just how awful the dust bowl days must have been. And the ending of drought, at least in my experience, was Nature as tease and coquette rather than mother. A few drops here, a few drops there. Even after the atmosphere began to moisten, it took time.

    Do you have purple sage out there? We call it the barometer bush, and I’ve never known it to fail. If the sage begins to bloom, rain is on the way. (Yes, you do have it. I found this in SFGate.

    I loved learning about your family connection to the water mill, and the poem, too. I wish I could send you some of our rain. More’s coming down this morning, after a week that brought us about 5″!

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    • While living in Washington we never thought of rain one way or another–it was always there! Sometime in the night I heard a slow driip and this morning the ground is wet. We probably wouldn’t think so much abut the lack of rain if Governor Brown didn’t keep raising the ante. You just get used to saving water where you can.

      Purple sage—salvia. Yes, we do have it and it is lovely. I planted some low growing plants to complement yellow coriopsis for several years, but I’m not putting flowers in this year. The one you mentioned would be lovely. We are in the process of deciding whether to put a drought resistant front yard in.

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  4. Woburn, Massachusetts…..I know it well….

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    • How exciting! I have never been there. My grandparents moved to California perhaps in 1918 from further north in New Hampshire. The Navy transferred us to Connecticut in 1939, but we never visited Woburn. I\

      I love your poetry BTW.

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      • Woburn (locals pronounce it “WOOB-un” ) is just a few minutes drive northwest of Boston, where I resided most of my adult life. I retired to NH and now make my home back where I started, in the White Mountain foothills of Maine. thanks for the BTW!

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  5. Fascinating stuff, Kayti. The proverb is beautiful and profound.

    Liked by 1 person

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