Thee final day of daylight savings in 2012; bring on the SAD Mother Nature, you cruel wench. A little after 4:00 PM today, it occurred to me that it was getting dark and I had to get out and drive for today’s photo de jour before the sun set. Unaware where to go, I headed north on Grove Street, took a right on Drummond Ave. and figured I’d get on 190 towards 290. As I took a left onto Holden Street followed by a quick right onto Shore Drive, I noticed the bare trees at Shore Park, all skeletons of the full bodied leaves they held a week ago before Sandy brought her wrath.
I pulled into the parking lot of Shore Park, now empty of all the cars that filled it this summer except for three. A blue Saturn L series, about 1998 model I’d guess, housed a couple screaming at each other in the throws of what looked like the “final fight” before a break up. A silver SUV, which probably belonged to the couple walking their puggle and terrier mix on the beach and my dependable silver Honda Civic were the only vehicles in sight. As I walked through the young maple and oak trees that line the shore of Indian Lake, the cold grabbed me and robbed my fingers of warmth. Just like that, November whispered winter in the air.
Indian Lake is a few blocks from my apartment. It is bounded on the east by Route 12 and I-190 and on the west by Route 122A. As I mentioned in the caption, it is the largest body of water completely in Worcester (as Lake Quinsigamond shares its size with Shrewsbury). Running around the perimeter is a perfect 3.2 miles, great for training for a 5K. Note that I said running, as in running in general, not that I have…to be honest I have still yet to run the entire route without a few walking breaks in between. Yet, I digress.
The water lapped quietly with soft ripples reflecting the magic hour of light. The sun was just about to set as I climbed over dead leaves and stones, sinking into the mud lining the bank. Azure, ash, charcoal, silver, slate, violet, and ivory swirled into wisps across the sky, highlighted by the golds and amber rays of daylight. Dense caverns of ebony crisscrossed with ragged gossamer holes of baby blue, trying to peek through the stratus. With such strokes of contrast, tone and brightness, on this day, what poet would dare call November the dullest month? The final ruby leaves of a Burning Bush absorbed the warmth of the light while they could. Perhaps knowing that today marked the last day until spring that the sun would set after 4:30, daylight and clouds painted one final masterpiece for those who cared to notice.
Where had autumn gone so swiftly?
Paradoxically, I am a night person who dreads the sun setting so early and rising so late. Viva la Depression…but yay night! Oy vey.
Indian Lake is packed during the summer with neighborhood kids and many from all over Worcester. The Dogfather parks his hot dog van next to the lot with his clever signs: “Free bun with every purchase.” “Buy one for the price of two and get one free.” and perhaps my favorite pun “Relish today, Ketchup tomorrow.”
But it wasn’t always a recreational lake. If we go back to Worcester’s roots in the Industrial 1800s, at this site, you’d be at North Pond, not Indian Lake. Worcester, being landlocked from any major river or ocean made it difficult for the growing city to be a productive port of industry to transport goods. Thus began the Blackstone Canal project to link Worcester to Providence, RI via the Blackstone River. According to the Indian Lake Watershed Association’s history of Indian Lake/North Pond, the lake was the source of water to the Blackstone River.
In 1828, the pond was dammed to increase the amount of water for use by the Blackstone Canal. Be that as it may, with the rise of the railroads, manufacturers realized trains would be more practical and a better source of transport than the canal. The Blackstone Canal project was abandoned along with the dam on North Pond. The dam however created a piece of land, which is now known as Sears Island, which is still inhabited today.
Furthermore, Indian Lake’s use was not limited only to the Blackstone Canal.
Before ice makers and electricity, ice was harvested on lakes and ponds for those few weeks in winter when they were frozen through. This became a sizeable industry in 1848 in Worcester as the large blocks of ice would be harvested and provided to local establishments and resident’s ice boxes. According to the Indian Lake Watershed Association, In 1855 Benjamin Walker established the Walker Ice Company with Samuel S. Sweetser. “A storage facility was established on the western shore of Indian Lake, where Morgan Park is now located. This facility would harvest approximately 15,000 to 18,000 tons of ice per year.” The Walker Ice Company remained in business until 1935 when the building was lost to a fire.
Like many bodies of water, Indian Lake experienced issues late in the 20th century with pollution and weed overgrowth, from population run off and its close proximity to the highway 190 and St. Gobain abrasives ceramics and plastics factories. But with the efforts of the watershed association and those good ol’ Worcester folk who volunteer, they’ve made the best of the situation, keeping the lake clean and inviting for Worcester residents.
I for one am glad to have this tiny retreat so close to home.