THEN, THE RAIN

A bright, beautiful first morning at the cabin

A bright, beautiful first morning at the cabin

It rained hard most of the day yesterday and started off with heavy rain this morning, too.

Rays of sunshine through the last of the morning mist

Rays of sunshine through the last of the morning mist

It’s ironic. All summer, it has been sunny and dry. Beautiful weather, pretty much from May through September.  As soon as we got to Maine, it began to rain.

And then, it rained ...

And then, it rained …

Maybe it’s nature’s way of telling me I need to relax … to not run around doing “stuff.” Still, it is gorgeous here and I was looking forward t the opportunity to take some pictures.

Rain, rain ...

Rain, rain …

I did take some shots of the rain yesterday, but it’s hard to see it. You can see it’s wet, but the rain is elusive.

IT WAS A MIGHTY RIVER – GARRY ARMSTRONG

The Mumford is normally a powerful little river. It’s the largest of the Blackstone’s tributaries.  The Mumford’s wrath has more than once been felt as it overflowed its banks and turned the town into a lake.

Mumford Dam - May 2014

Mumford Dam – May 2014

Mighty no more. The Mumford is barely a stream. Until the dam in Uxbridge, where the river crosses Route 16, the river looks more or less normal.

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That’s because the dam contains the water, allowing only a small spillway and a tiny overflow to pass the dam and flow into the Mumford. Immediately in front of the dam, there are a few inches of water – enough to sustain a few small fish that can feed at least one blue heron.

Mumford River - September 2014

Mumford River – September 2014

Just across the overpass formed by Route 16, probably no more than 200 feet from the dam, the river becomes a series of shiny, reflective puddles. Not a river at all. Unable to sustain fish or other water-based life. No turtles. No ducks, geese, or swans.

One heron, waiting for a fish

One heron, waiting for a fish

The drought to which no one is paying attention, which is being ignored by TV stations and newspapers alike, is taking a terrible toll on wildlife. If it doesn’t start to rain soon and steadily, it’s going to take a similar toll on people, especially those of us who get our water from private wells.

Mumford River, just down from the dam

Mumford River, just down from the dam

We all share the same aquifer. Not just in the Blackstone Valley. All over the state and across state lines into Connecticut and Rhode Island. The aquifer, a series of interconnected waterways that run through the base rock of New England, doesn’t know about state lines.

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Your well, my well, the wells belonging to my neighbors up and down our street and wherever the aquifer runs … they are all connected. Your well may be on your property, but the water belongs to all of us. Your water use affects me as surely as does the lack of rain.

Pretty reflections in the shallow puddles of the Mumford

Pretty reflections in the shallow puddles of the Mumford

Even if you are on “city water,” where do you think your water comes from? We are the watershed.

The water source is here. If we are drying up, so are you. Whether you know it or not.


As many of you may know, our well recently went dry. It was a chaotic moment for us. We did not have the money to renovate our well. I had no bright ideas. We had one option. I didn’t like it but we didn’t have a choice. We had to ask for financial help. It probably was the most depressing moment of my adult life.

I was surprised by the response. I am still shaking my head in wonderment at the generosity of friends and strangers. We’ve received enough money to schedule the renovation of our well.

Thank you doesn’t seem adequate to convey our gratitude.

Thank you!

SEPTEMBER AT RIVER BEND – AND PLEASE GET A FLU SHOT

I was very organized. I’ve wanted to get over to River Bend for a few weeks, but life kept taking us in other directions. Today, though, I knew we’d make it because we needed to go to CVS … and it’s just around the corner from the farm. It’s flu shot time. Last year, we got sidetracked. Not only did both of us get the flu, but we both got pneumonia. I had to delay my heart surgery twice because you really can’t have heart surgery when you’re coughing so hard you’re afraid your heart will propel itself out of your chest.

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And we made another mistake too. Not only did we get our flu shots late – the beginning of November – but we went to the doctor’s office to get them. It was already flu season by then. There were at least two people with heavy coughs in the waiting room. One of them firmly declared she didn’t need a mask because she wasn’t sick. “It just allergies,” she explained. I winced every time she coughed.

Thought balloon: “Excuse me, you germ-ridden hag … that deep, hacking cough is no damned allergy.”

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It was already too late by the time the nurse insisted she cover up. Garry and I got our shots, but it takes about 2 weeks to develop immunity from the vaccine. It was less than 48 hours before we were both sick. I slipped seamlessly and promptly into pneumonia and stayed sick for the next 4 weeks. Garry took longer to develop pneumonia, but he eventually got there too.

Not making the same mistake this year.

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Getting flu vaccine at CVS was quick, easy, pleasant. The nurse was cheerful, friendly, and competent. We didn’t have to sit in a waiting room full of sick people. The shots were paid for by Medicare — without the “office visit” charge the doctor charged — a full $100 less than last year.

We were in and out in about 45 minutes, including a little bit of shopping we had to do.

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I recommend everyone get a flu shot. The rumor that you can get the flu from the vaccine is untrue, a classic urban legend. The flu is serious stuff. It frequently leads to pneumonia and other secondary infections. Unless you have a month to spend miserable and sick, get a flu shot soon. Before you get sick.

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River Bend Farm is part of the Blackstone Valley National Corridor, one of many parks along the Blackstone River. While there’s a bit of color showing now, the rich reds, orange, and yellow-gold of true autumn haven’t quite arrived. But close. Very close.

There is more color in the woods behind my house than along the river today. Usually, you see color first where there’s water.

So … autumn’s not here yet. But it’s on its way. You can smell it on the breeze, feel it in the crispness of the air. And see it in the bright yellow foliage.

RIVER BEND LATE SEPTEMBER – GARRY ARMSTRONG

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It was a beautiful day. Almost every day this summer has been perfect. Except for a scarcity of rain, I don’t remember a better summer in New England. No stifling humidity or weeks of tropical rain. No blistering heat. Just sunshine, moderate temperatures, low humidity. It doesn’t get better than this.

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With a little bit of luck, Autumn will be equally perfect. And maybe (please, oh weather gods) a mild winter to follow?

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A trip to River Bend Farm to see the beginning of Autumn in the trees. It was nice to see the Blackstone River looking pretty much normal. Hopefully that bodes well for our water supply.

ONE RED FLOWER AMIDST SO MUCH GREEN

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And there, in the shade, is a scarlet blossom. In a sea of green and pastel, I saw it out of the corner of my eye.

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Along the river, the wildflowers are blooming. Not a little bit. A lot. In profusion. Blue and white and pink. In the water, along the bank, in the shade along the stream the runs from the river into the wood.

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