The Water Closet for Nov.13, 2015
[pullquote]”Ira worked closely with the Conservation Commission, the Community Preservation Committee, and the Essex County Greenbelt Association over the years.”[/pullquote] Last week Middleton Stream Team’s photographer Judy Schneider and her artist daughter Rachel visited a large beaver dam on town land just down stream from Webbers Pond off East Street. In what some call “Locust-East”, conservation land between East and Locust streets, the beavers built a long-low dam about eight years ago a hundred yards east of Webbers Pond, which added to each year since has tripled the shallow pond’s area. Long a skating pond, it is also much admired for its white water lilies in summer. Locust-East lies in between glacial drumlin Bare Hill (also “Jail Hill”) rising steeply to the south and a terrace formation to the north. Today across the brook’s floodplain is a 250 foot long, 4 foot high dam and three small newer dams across the overflow brook below. Judy and Rachel found two dams built this fall just a little down from the first two. A sandy bottomed brook flows below the dams down through a red maple swamp to a large culvert under Locust Street and the Ferncroft Golf Course. Water exits the culvert into Nichols Brook which takes it a mile north through a wide swamp to the Ipswich River just west of Route I-95 near Masconomet.
The ladies crossed on the large dam after checking a fine stand of large yellow birches that the beavers had been found girdling a couple years before. Last year Stream Teamer Red Caulfield put barriers of wire fencing around each of 25 valuable trees within beaver range of water. They don’t like to roam too far from protective, easily-traveled-in water, hence the smaller dams below the large dam. Their impoundments allow safe passage and water for branch floating as they move further down drainage.
After being told about the success of Red’s fences in stopping further damage and tree death the old Closeteer visited and looked for beaver sculptures, particularly those resembling what he calls beaver busts.* While doing so he remembered a strange encounter in mid-October with a delegation of beavers. Over the years beavers have known he often walks around their many impoundments in town and beyond. They also probably know he cuts and steals their rare sculpted busts when found. However, they may sense he likes beavers and admires their work so they haven’t seemed to mind the loss of seven busts over 16 years. Through the wildlife grapevine they may have also learned he has given busts to four grandchildren as very unusual birthday gifts, and that there still is a large one on the floating Water Closet shack’s deck.
While hiking on the west edge of a very large impoundment of beavers’ in the undeveloped, protected north part of town where North Andover, Boxford and Middleton meet three old beavers recently confronted him and led the friendly Closeteer to the stump of a large ash tree. He immediately recognized it as the place he had found a large bust that he cut and took without permission to the Water Closet. Many more paw signals from the furry delegates followed. Somehow the Closeteer finally sensed or intuited that they wanted him to bring the bust as a gift to Ira Singer who was departing after 34 years as Middleton town administrator. Ira worked closely with the Conservation Commission, the Community Preservation Committee, and the Essex County Greenbelt Association over the years. He never bothered beavers as officials do in many towns.
In any event, the Closeteer, feeling guilty about the theft, signed with hands and smiles that he would do as he thought they wanted. He returned to the Water Closet and sanded smooth the bottom of the bust where his saw had cut and with a black magic marker wrote: Bust in ash of IRA SINGER by anonymous Middleton beaver sculptor, circa 2003
On the evening of October 28 at a jolly, wake-like goodbye party for Ira at Theresa’s Restaurant the heavy bust, veiled in white plastic, was left on a gift table to be found later in the evening by Ira who had done such a good job for our town, a town which includes scores of beavers who’ve created several hundred acres of rich wildlife habitat during the last two decades of Ira’s reign.
* We Stream Teamers have never seen the sculptors at work on what we call busts. Perhaps a short beaver, or an old one bent over, deeply notches the base of the tree half way through all around. Later a taller beaver comes along and not happy with the low cut makes another head high above the first only this time going all the way through until the tree falls. Humans who hike around beaver impoundments see 100s of stumps from single cuts and every few years a double cut that appears a head on neck above shoulders. It is fun to think a beaver artist has purposely made a bust of a friend or famous beaver.
_______________________________________________________________________________WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATION
FOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD`
|Precipitation Data* for Month of:||Aug||Sept||Oct||Nov|
|30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches||3.37||3.77||4.40||4.55|
|2015 Central Watershed Actual||2.67||3.97||3.11||0.0 as of 11/9**|
Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For Nov 9, 2015 Normal . . . 33 CFS Current Rate . . . 100 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru Oct..
**Middleton Stream Team is source of actual precipitation data for Nov.
Normals data is from the National Climatic Data Center.
THE WATER CLOSET is provided by the Middleton Stream Team: www.middletonstreamteam.org or <MSTMiddletonMA@gmail.com> or (978) 777-4584