GOLDEN AFTERNOON

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When Garry said I should come out and grab my camera, I wasn’t as thrilled as I usually am. Mid November is usually drab, vying with early March for nothing special to shoot. Nonetheless, I went. I haven’t taken any pictures for over a week and my camera was lonely.

Mallards golden november at the dam

As we left the house, the sun came out. I noticed more than a bit of autumn foliage. Most of the trees are half bare. Naked branches cluster right, left, or center … but the rest of the tree is still clothed in golden leaves.

November Mallards dam blackstone

Our first stop was Whitins Pond. The last time we were there, it was mostly muddy bottom. No birds and not enough water to float a canoe. Today it looked normal. The mallards I saw were too far away to shoot, but I was glad to see them swimming lazily on what may be the last warm day of this autumn.

Mallards November Mumford

Garry suggested we check out the dam in the middle of town. When we got there, it was after three … late afternoon since the clocks were turned back. The light was golden and so were the trees along the Mumford River. The angle of the sun and the trees turned the river to gold.

mallard Mumford golden

We were above the dam and a whole flock a mallards were enjoying an excursion. There were males with their bright teal heads, females and adolescents — full-grown, but not yet wearing their adult feathers.

November Mallards Mumford

It was gorgeous. These pictures are not processed. This is how it looked in the lens. No special effects … or any effects … were used. Just a little cropping. A drab day turned into a miraculous day.

November Mallards golden Mumford

AT HOME AND BY THE DAM – AUTUMN LEAVES

First, a little music … Edith Piaf and Yves Montand singing Autumn Leaves. Just for you. Why does everything sound better in French?


 

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The Mumford is barely a trickle of its former self, but it’s still beautiful. The trees are turning, brighter every day.

foliage on the Mumson

The leaves reflect in the water and the sky is cloudless and blue. Autumn is our best season, when New England takes her fanciest clothing out of storage and steps out. The trees and the grasses glow with color. The air is amber and everything is beautiful.This is the season I wait for.

I hope it’s a great one. An epic Autumn.

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May it rain every night, but clear by morning.

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!

MY BLUE HERON

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I needed an airing. My cameras needed exercise. So, finally, I got my act together and we went out to take some pictures. Where to go?

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Sometimes, the path of least resistance works out best. We went into town, parked and walked to the Mumford River and the dam. With trepidation. I didn’t know how bad it would be. As it turned out, better than I had hoped, at least for photography.

Because there, right in front of the dam where it used to be deep with a powerful current, stood a blue heron. So still he might have been a statue. Garry spotted him and we dove for our cameras.

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We had nothing to fear. He stood there, unmoving, for so long I thought maybe there was something wrong with him. Then, he started to move. Walked over to the spill way … and grabbed a fish. And swallowed it. Then, in his new position along the side by the spillway, he again went still. I guess he was waiting for another fish. He was still standing there when we packed our gear and headed home.

Mr. Heron catches a fish.

Mr. Heron catches a fish.

The Mumford is very low. It’s no more than a few inches deep, but at least it’s wet. I guess, from the heron’s viewpoint, it’s better this way. Because when the river was “normal,” a wading bird couldn’t fish there.

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