Heaven and Earth
The woods are not the only mysterious natural feature of the landscape. The other is the lake for which the town is named. It’s a peaceful stretch of water with a strange history of unpredictable incidents. The summertime sunsets reflecting off its surface are spectacular, but the locals do not swim or boat there very much these days. The high number of drowning deaths and the unusual occurrences surrounding them has scared most folk off. In a couple of incidents, adults have drowned in shallow water. In others, several people simply dove into the deep water and never returned to the surface. Even with the massive reduction in recreational traffic, there is still at least one drowning death per year.
During the early part of the 1900’s, the lake was the center of the town’s community calendar. Ice cream socials, fireworks, and boating were regular events throughout the year. The placement of Tryst Park reflects this, continuing the strip of manicured green lawns from the grounds of St. Anselm, down past the Town Square and City Hall, and along the lake shore. Somehow all this changed.
By 1970, fatalities from boating accidents were up to four a year. In 1984, the city council put an end to organized recreational boating on the lake, and the boathouse was closed. In 1992, swimming was restricted to the park area, and City Hall hired lifeguards to supervise swimmers. These actions did decrease the number of deaths and close calls, allowing earlier boating and swimming restrictions to be lessened somewhat. Still, the lake claims at least one victim per year.
In the local mythology, the lake is considered to be far more hospitable than the woods, though no more trustworthy. People maintain a sense of trepidation regarding the lake though not the type of irrational fear that is often engendered by the woods. Although cautious, the townsfolk do not shy away from the lake.