Wednesday, October 11, 2006
A much needed rain is currently falling, lightly, in the Farmington Valley. I am sitting in my kitchen listening to the drops hit the concrete patio, gutters, leaves, lawn, trying to capture each different sound and each individual drop. I know of few people who can't find a way to appreciate the sound of rain, its languid quality, the way that it induces gentle melancholy stillness and contemplation. One of my greatest joys is to be hunkered down in a warm sleeping bag listening to the drops tapping the tent fly on a cold fall evening with light fading and the winter darkness making itself known as the first of all the seasonal change at that time of year. It is an enveloping kind of darkness that feels, as it settles, like it will not yield to daylight. Rather, it creeps into every space in the woods with a dreadful permanence , and then it relents a bit as sleep takes over and a dreamworld prevails.
The rain will help restore the river level which has become disturbingly low. We have had a mild drought since mid-August, although that term is lost on most New Englanders at this time of year as there is little sign to indicate its presence. With cooler days, lawns don't brown the way they will in summer drought and leaves are beginning the process of senescence as it is. Water is not the precious resource here in the East that it is in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Southern California. We take it for granted and we use it in excess. But the soil, the groundwater, does "know" that dry conditions have prevailed. The water table is below the level of the river and little, if any, recharge is occurring. In addition, the Metropolitan District which controls the major reservoirs is reporting that levels have dropped by about 1% in the past week alone. The temptation to hold back flow at the dams must be great and, of course, this would lead to even lower flow in the river.
The level has not been down to the point where my kayaking has been impeded, but I think of all the trout and large mouth bass I watched over a month ago. They are squeezed into an ever decreasing volume of water and, for the trout in particular, must seek the few deeper pools and eddies where cooler oxygen rich water can be found at the bottom. Imagine being taken out of a large hotel suite and crammed into a cluttered college dorm room with a few other people. It can't be much better than that for the fish.
So before Winter begins to lock up ground flow, I want it to rain and rain and rain. In the meantime, paddle on, paddle on, paddle on.