Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Lovely Ruin

The path from Risley Hall down into the Fall Creek gorge (see Autumn Gorge, on the Risley website) is steep, stony, needs work. Where the path crosses the first runoff, a stone slab that formed a tiny footbridge has fallen into a narrow channel lined with crumbling stonework, choked with rubble. The bridge seems a lost cause, but if I’d brought tools, I could happily spend the afternoon down here, grading the path, clearing brush and fallen trees.

Today though, we’ve brought only Parni’s camera, my tripod, a notebook, a pen. Half an hour, several photos, and my reservations about carrying a tripod are forgotten; already it seems indispensable again.

Making my way along the water’s edge, stopping now and then to look up at the underside of the Thurston Avenue bridge from this novel perspective, I realize that being down here in the gorge seems a much more private experience than I’d have expected. We’ve only encountered three people so far, two guys and a girl coming back downstream; but it’s more that the gorge is so deep here, the bridge deck so far above us that the people looking down from the railings register only briefly, don’t matter. You don’t feel watched.

Across a wide sunny expanse of ledge, a mosaic whose meaning eludes me for a moment: Then the many small bits of shale coalesce, become big letters spelling out a greeting to be read from above: HEY ANDREW.

A last turning of the gorge, and our walk upstream ends at Triphammer Falls and the abandoned Hydraulics Lab. The lab, built at the turn of the last century, has been condemned and closed to the public for nearly forty years. But what a lovely ruin it remains.

M. John Harrison is blogging again, this time at the Ambient Hotel.

Short story: MJH’s ‘Cocking A Snook’, from the archives of Barbara Campbell’s 1001 Nights.


Parnilla said...

I recall it was very warm, a typical July day...But soon we stood at a place we had talked about walking to before...not knowing how close we could come to the old ruins...wondering why we never in many walks, had found this place...(c;

Mark Reep said...

Apparently there's been talk over the years of restoration, adapting the building to new use, but the structure's probably too far gone at this point. Just as well, maybe; if they made it all shiny and new again, it probably wouldn't be half as interesting :)