Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Will there be a stream left for August's camp?

Summer morning
When Monday night’s storms dropped half an inch of rain on Roundtop and nearly 2.5” of rain in Harrisburg, I was hoping the weather would raise the level of the little stream where I meet with the kids from camp. That didn’t happen, unless the level of the stream would have been even lower than it was on Tuesday. The stream, the North Branch of Beaver Creek, is barely flowing. I’ve seen it this low, rarely, at the end of a dry August, but never at the end of July.

I have two more weeks of camp with the kids, and I don’t know if there will be any stream left by then. Somehow, I don’t think an empty stream bed, or a nearly empty stream bed, devoid of life because the raccoons have feasted on the frogs, minnows and salamanders, will be nearly as interesting or as much fun for the kids.

The low water of yesterday contributed, I believe, to the kids finally catching the two biggest crayfish of the summer. I (and the kids) have seen these crayfish all summer, but they haven’t been able to catch them. That’s mostly because the crayfish hang out in the middle and deepest part of the little pool where we meet. Their little arms and the minnow net haven’t been able to reach into there—until yesterday. Both of the biggest whoppers were caught and spent the afternoon in my bucket, producing oohs and ahhs from the kids. All the “prisoners” were safely released at the end of the day.

The kids also are catching more minnows than they did at the beginning of the summer, too. The lower water facilitates that as well, but that’s not the only reason. In the early part of the summer some of the minnows were so small they could slip through the tiny holes of the minnow net. The minnows have grown some since then, and fewer of them are that small anymore.

The ever-obliging wood tortoise was captured again, to the delight of all. The tortoise is such a mellow creature, not in the least bit aggressive or even fearful. Even after we release it, the kids can watch it swim in the pool, stick its head up and watch us back.

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