Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

A River Close to Home



Dennis Yates

One afternoon, I stepped into an ale-dark current thick with leaves. A steady drizzle had turned into a fine sleet, icing clusters of bittersweet berries and the oval scarlet leaves of burning bush along the banks. In my hip-boots I stood beneath massive sycamores and maples, rhythmically casting a streamer toward undercut banks and half-submerged timber. Somewhere in the loss of time that ensues from this Zen-like activity, I was transported back a thousand or more years, reminded that the course of this riverbed still follows to some degree that of a more ancient Pomperaug.

Like many streams throughout New England, the Pomperaug is a beleaguered river. Dammed for mills during early Colonial times, its aquifer tapped for water, and its waters silted by effluents, the river flows approximately 14 miles in a southwesterly course before emptying into Lake Zoar, a 975-acre lake formed by the hydroelectric Stevenson Dam. Prior to 1919, from this confluence point, it flowed the entire 26-mile length of the Housatonic River into Long Island Sound. Still, meandering through the southwest hills of Connecticut, it is trout country as boreal and wild as any of the more fabled streams of the Northeast.

Working a tangle of roots, my five-weight rod jolts in my hands, and I play a scrappy 15-inch brown trout. It is sleek and sinewy in my net and hands—a cold microcosm of the river itself. I release it into the current where it hovers over the variegated bottom. The Pomperaug, regrettably, is a kind of elegy to other once-native species as well, including anadromous populations of shad, blueback herring, and alewives. These migrations up the Housatonic and up that river’s tributaries—the Still River, Naugatuck, Shepaug, and Pomperaug—ended with the construction of the Derby Dam in 1870, and the more formidable Stevenson Dam.

Evidence of another species that used to inhabit the Pomperaug came to my attention a few years ago, when I began encountering a strange-looking rake at local yard sales and in the musty corners of antiques stores, one akin to Poseidon’s trident, only smaller. These were probably the implement of choice for the harvesting of American eels, until their disappearance with the Stevenson Dam. For the original peoples of this inland region, the migratory runs of fish were essential. One can imagine the traces of smoked freshwater eel wafting over the fields and woods. Alas, the epoch when the Pomperaug teemed with fins is long gone, and the stone weirs of Indians found a few miles north on the Nonnewaug, are a remnant of this vanished prehistory.

The river seems at times like a secluded patch of wildness, but this is misleading, since at times you are confronted with massive contemporary homes that appear through the woods like suburban monoliths. A stretch of the riverbed in Southbury is ornamented with thermoplastic stones, indications of the golf course through which it passes.

Being on the river in late fall has its benefits, not the least of which is the absence of fishermen. Add to that those coveted moments that are ineffably primordial: a 16-inch brown trout engulfs your streamer, and you are engaged in a piscatorial struggle that snaps you out of this world and places you squarely in the presence of fishermen a hundred or even 2,000 years ago.

The Pomperaug may not be the mightier Housatonic a few miles to the west, or the legendary Farmington, but when I’m standing in it, names disappear and the small river is just as significant and wild as any. There is the earthy waft of decaying leaves, the cidery smoke of the air, and rising mineral vapors. I like the idea that the water pushing against me will make its way, slowly, into Long Island Sound, 40 miles to the south, and that maybe, with the possible installation of fish passages at the Stevenson Dam, the primitive shapes of eels and herring will once again be seen.

Add your comment:

Connect With Us    

Sign-up for our event 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

Just a little over an hour from the northern suburbs of NYC, in the northwest hills of Connecticut lies one of the best kept secrets in trail running around! If you are ready for a new challenge of...

Cost: $50-$60

Where:
Steep Rock Preserve
2 Tunnel Rd.
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Steep Endurance LLC
Contact Name: Brian Vanderheiden
Website »

More information

Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

Kiki Michalek will introduce a new series of paintings, celebrating the art of the carousel. “Carousel Dreams” is a collection of original work showing animals with different themes....

Cost: Free

Where:
Whiting Mills
100 Whiting St.
Studio 308, Air Borne Creations
Winsted, CT  06098
View map »


Sponsor: Kiki Michalek
Telephone: 203-913-3883
Contact Name: Kiki Michalek
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join Art Rodia, an instructor with over 30 years of yoga teaching experience, as he guides this gentle yoga class. Created for people over fifty and beginners who need a gentle and accessible...

Cost: 10 per class

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Holiday Craft Day on Friday, November 23rd from 2 to 4 PM, followed by a 4:30 PM family movie (Disney’s COCO) for all ages. Local artist Katie Ré Scheidt will lead the Holiday Craft...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens
One Green Hill
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: The Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens
Contact Name: Laura Neminski
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

We will celebrate the Full Moon and use its powerful energy for personal growth and spiritual development, focusing on developing intuition and the “heart’s knowing.”  Music, ritual,...

Cost: 15.00

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255-6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

The New York Times bestselling author, Simon Winchester, traces the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age to explore the single component crucial to...

Cost: 25.00

Where:
Sandisfield Arts Center
5 Hammertown Rd.
Sandisfield, MA  01255
View map »


Sponsor: Sandsifeld Arts Center
Telephone: 413-281-4100
Contact Name: Marcella Smith

More information

Join us for another incredible evening of music featuring four local singer songwriters performing original music! Doors open at 7pm upstairs in the handicapped accessible Community Room. Snacks...

Cost: Free - donations graciously accepted

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Living in History

Owning Litchfield's oldest house is both a privilege and a commitment, and this stylish and design-oriented couple have both left their mark on the Olcott house and adhered to its authenticity.

Old House, New Tricks

With a two-story frame house, a barn, and several outbuildings, the property in Washington had everything the house-hunters were looking for. Now they just needed an architect to make it right.

Lake Effect

Amie Weitzman and her husband David Adler bought a one story lake-side cottage hoping that they could turn it into a much needed retreat. Though it took more work than the family originally planned, they now have a home with a wonderful view.

Please Respond

Be dazzled by six-course meals at this West Cornwall restaurant

Getting Jazzed

For 15 years, the Litchfield Jazz camp has provided musical education—both vocal and instrumental—to children from all parts of the region.
Edit ModuleShow Tags