This past summer, sometime around half past June, the flow stopped completely. After several weeks the stream bed was dry enough to walk on and not sink in up to my knees. I had walked on it the previous March and sunk up to my calves. I thought I was going to have to use my cell phone to call 911 for an extrication, but I wiggled around for awhile, and escaped. I must have looked mighty stupid standing there, jerking about like I had found a great tune on my iPod. I didn't do that again. I guess this is what is meant by an "intermittent stream". It's a stream, intermittently, and mud the rest of the time.
The stream remained dry for months. In December it began to flow again for a short time, and soon fizzled out until January. The photo at the left is how it looked this past week.
So, what excactly is an"intermittent stream" officially? Well, the following is the official definition taken from the Towns web site:
4.22.1 Intermittent Stream Generally, a body of running water which does not flow throughout the year, has a watershed less than 1 square mile and is shown on the USGS topographic map as intermittent. A dry stream bed must be present for 4 consecutive days at a minimum of 24 hours separation each (i.e. a minimum of 96 consecutive hours), or the stream has a “positive flow” less than 99% of the time. Occasionally a body of running water which does not flow throughout the year is perennial (dryness may be due to drought, impoundment or other unusual or unnatural circumstances). The determination of stream status will be made by the Commission on a case-by-case basis. The determination will be based on best professional judgment, local site knowledge, scientific data and current... .
Well, apparently whatever the heck it is, it's handled on case by case basis.
Judging form the trees, shrubs and flowers we found underneath years of debris it seems the couple that lived here for six decades loved this place. It's only right that we bring it back, and put our own spin on it. Just so happens we love playing in the yard.
But, this intermittent stream thing has me puzzled. I want to be able to do what is best for the stream, and whomever lives down there, but I'm at a loss as to how far one can go. Will the Conservation folks slap me with a cease and desist for clearing out the stream of debris to ensure its flow? I promise not to threaten any 4-toed salamanders, or 3-toed sloths while cleaning the stream. Once the area is cleared of the debris it will look great, and flow quite well on into the Quinebaug.
There is one other issue, though. A few days ago I spotted a small tree stump about 2 feet tall. On the top of the stump was fresh white wood shaped in a pyrimid, and it looked liked small pieces of wood chips on the ground below it. It is about 50 feet away across the stream so I had to use my binoculars to get a closer look. The first thing I thought of was beavers. But beavers here? In this little stream? There was no flow for six months, why now? And where the heck did they come from? Are they on a mailing list? The last thing I need is beavers. I've seen them before, down in the Hobbs Brook area off Charlton Street. They look like fat little toddlers in fur coats.
I have also noticed that the width of the stream is increasing. This may mean there is an obstruction further down stream. There is a culvert at the end of our property that the stream flows into and then under Route 148. It eventually joins another stream that comes down from Clark Road, and they both take a hidden path on to the river. I checked out the culvert today, and it is fine, so if there is a restriction it is most likely further down, and on the other side of the road, or even in the culvert itself.
I think most of us have a few special places that we gravitate to, this stream is one of mine. Sometimes I just walk over to the well, and stare off into the water pouring from the culvert, and let all those things that have velcroed themselves to me from the week fall off and flow downstream.
Want some unsolicited advice? Find a stream, or meadow, or a pine grove of your own, and once in awhile visit it. Let all those things that have sat on your shoulders for way too long fall free, and clear your head. You will be surprised how good you will feel after a good stare off into space.