Today I had an appointment at the Arlington Historical Society, where I was the beneficiary of generous help from Doreen Stevens. She had pulled out some old maps of Mill Brook in the second half of the 19th century, when it was still a series of mill ponds. Many of the former mill ponds are now playing fields; the brook, no longer performing an industrial function, flows past them or under them.
Doreen directed me to the place now known as Cooke’s Hollow (behind the police station), which was the location of the first grist mill in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, built in 1637. Nothing remains of that mill, but the drop here, where Mill Brook flows out from beneath Buzzell Field, occurs at the site of the original dam.
Mill Brook then continues under Mystic St.,
between a parking lot and an old industrial building, now subdivided into offices,
and enters Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.
The cemetery extends to Lower Mystic Lake; near the lake, Mill Brook spreads out into a wetland (too true to its name for me to explore today) and then narrows again at the exit
where it pours through something like the remains of a dam or spillway:
I wonder if the town built these concrete installations with an eye toward beauty, if they thought ahead to when the concrete would be rounded by time and moss would grow on it.
Not that, in the end, it matters. They are what they are now,
and so is this,
the mark of human punctuation which ends Mill Brook.