Times, they are a-changing
Despite our stretch of steamy summer days, it appears autumn is not right around the corner, it may be here. I first witnessed autumn last week when a crisp brown mitten leaf slowly zigzagged its way from my neighbor's sassafras tree to my front lawn. I categorized the incident as a fluke until I walked home from downtown yesterday. Orange, yellow and red sugar maple leaves were scattered across the milldam lawn. Acorns and yellow oak leaves were strewn across portions of sidewalk on Lexington Road.
Before breaking out the Halloween decorations, I did a little checking. Maple trees, in particular, tend to lose their leaves early during drought conditions. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor for Aug. 16, our little hamlet is not in an actual drought, but is seriously "abnormally dry," which is indicated by a shade of puke yellow (the same color as our lawns) on the agency's legend.
According to Nancy A. Bryant, executive director of the Suasco Watershed Community Council, which based in Stow makes it a little closer to home, we are in a drought advisory. "The ground water tables are so parched the trees are shedding their leaves and the rivers are going dry."
Many communities, including Concord, are asking residents to be careful with water usage. I think many of us, myself included, take its availability for granted.
"We desperately need rain," said Bryant, adding we were flush if not flooded in rainwater less than six months ago. "We can't control the weather, well, maybe we do and this is what's causing these patterns." She is referring to abuse, overuse and pollution of our natural resources, not any magical rain dance or anything like that.
After a little kayaking along the Assabet River, I can attest to the low water levels making paddling impossible in some stretches. Sadly, these levels also expose plenty of garbage - furniture, car parts, tires, etc. – stuck in the muck. This might be a good time to grab some heavy gloves, waterproof boots and a little muscle and remove the things others so carelessly left behind.
OK, they're not really feathered, but 100 percent genuine pink plastic. I'm referring to the flocks of hot pink flamingos I see posed on lawns here and there around town. I think this fad started several years ago with my neighbors who, for fun, lined their front lawn with the regal lawn ornaments, made famous in 1957 by Fitchburg's won Don Featherstone.
They did it for laughs, which was successful. Suddenly the flamingos were gone. When I asked about their disappearance, my friend (hi Diane!) said their teenaged daughter did not find the flamingos funny, especially when kids on the school bus brought them up in conversation. Many therapy sessions later, their daughter has finished school and the flamingos are perched in the backyard, keeping watch over the woodpile.
If all my Googling is correct, the flamingos were once a sign of wealth. Placing a flamingo on your front lawn in the North meant you could afford to take trips to Florida in the winter. Our feathered friends then became known as kitsch, this is about the time flights to Florida could be had for $100 or less. Now, they are also being used for fund raisers, particularly breast cancer awareness. Whatever someone's reason, you have to admit that you smile every time you see a hot pink flock of plastic perched on our American front lawns. .