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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Geology Lesson in the Valley

View from Mt. Sugarloaf, 652 ft,  taken 6.19.11 dee

My head is filled with facts that may never be called forth.  However, I spend a couple of hours today researching them. I can tell you what year Amtrak’s Montrealer ceased chugging as far north as Montreal.  I know when Vermont became the stopping point for the Amtrak run, leading to its new name, the Vermonter, in 1995. There are big changes in store for those travelers who wish to take the train from Springfield, MA to Brattleboro, VT. By the end of 2012, the Amherst, MA stop will be eased out and replaced with a refurbished railway stop in Northampton, MA.  This will carve eleven minutes off the travel time between Springfield, MA and Brattleboro, Vt; it will allow the train to travel through areas of greater population.  Upgrades in the equipment and rails themselves will be an important part of the systemic changes to this form of mass transportation.( http://www.amtrak40th.com/amtraks-history\)

I can talk about the word Wequomps, a word used by Native Americans to describe Mount Sugarloaf (South, elevation 652 ft., and North, 791 ft.)  There are ancient tales of giant beavers that roamed North America.  Fifteen thousand years ago, the region from northern Vermont to southern Connecticut was submerged under a giant post-glacial lake.  Sugarloaf Mountain was called Wequomps because the word is used to represent a stopping point. The lore of the Native Americans was that Mount Sugarloaf was the carcass of a giant beaver who laid down and died there. Native Americans believed that the giant beavers lived in a lake that existed over today’s terrain of the Connecticut River Valley. Once thought to be a myth, scientists are now lending credence to the notion.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocumtuck_Range\)

I learned about the Pocumtuck Range of Mountains in Franklin County, MA.  I can describe wildflowers that are native to Massachusetts.  I read about the path Mercury follows relative to the sun.  And, yes, jpeg files can be recovered from an SD Memory Card using a Mac.  
All of this information is uniquely relevant to the book I am researching. At 8 a.m. this morning, I would not have guessed that it was this information that I would be seeking.  By 3 p.m., my imagination had advanced the plot of my novel sufficiently such that I needed facts.  How like a spider a writer is, spinning a web to draw in the reader. ( For more on how spiders build their webs, a fascinating discussion is available --(http:ednieuw.home.xs4all.nl/Spiders/Info/Construction_of_a_web.html).)  To suspend disbelief, the tale must be firmly entrenched in the believable.  Truths and identifiable facts are the key.
Such is the life of a writer.  Volumes of data and mountains of facts must be distilled leaving only the essential details that will move a plot forward. I save it all.  It could be one small, seemingly inconsequential fact that will illuminate a moment and imbue it with meaning. I can only hope that I will recognize the key when I find it. 

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