Water Closet for March 24, 2017
[pullquote]”It would be nice if she’d organize a Rye Harbor to Isles of Shoals paddle for us Stream Teamers on some mild summer’s day, or better still start a Rye Stream Team.”[/pullquote]After twenty years of stalwart service and enduring contributions, Middleton Stream Teamer Katharine Brown will soon be leaving us for Rye, New Hampshire, not far from the ocean and just five miles west of the Isles of Shoals. Maybe ancient ocean genes like all humans have are drawing her to the sea.

Katharine Brown has been a stalwart on the Middleton Stream Team since its start in 1997. – Judy Schneider photo

Katharine has been a member of the weekly Water Closet team since its start in 2005. In our early years she negotiated with the Tri-Town Transcript for a weekly Stream Team column which she wrote for awhile. She continued to edit, format, and distribute the Water Closet after the old Closeteer took over the writing. With her good eye and ear she has excelled at sprinkling the essays since with needed punctuation. She has had many friendly exchanges with the tin-eared Closeteer on the placement of commas. She reveled in correcting him, her former high school teacher.
On the last Sunday of each month since the beginning of the Ipswich River Watershed Association testing program in 1997, Katharine and helpers have sampled Ipswich River water in all weathers from the bridge over the river on the Peabody-Middleton line. There the water descends over a long riffle below the Bostik Dam that harnessed power for 300 years. If the fish-blocking dam is gone by this fall as scheduled the flow for new samplers may be quite different.
For many years as Stream Team secretary Katharine sent information and good ideas out to the team. Hers was the communication network that kept the slowly growing team together. She raised the money for the handsome display case in the Post Office lobby, which she designed presentations for.   In the late 1990s and the first couple years of the millennium, she, with often only four or five others attended the fledgling team’s meetings. The team under the leadership of President John Bacon steadily grew until 2014. It has continued to grow under President Sandy Rubchinuk. By this past fall when Katharine turned her pen over to our present secretary, Joan Caulfield, attendance at monthly meetings had grown to over 25 members.

Katharine Brown, Middleton Stream Team, and Wayne Castonguay, Director of the Ipswich River Watershed Association, paddle together on their beloved river as the team and the association have since 1997. – IRWA photo

In addition to the work mentioned above, Katharine, for more than a decade together with Milly Clark, made fine cards of prize winning photographs from the annual Stream Team photo contests, which she initiated and organized for many years. Sales of these attractive cards have helped keep the frugal team’s ledgers in the black. You may have seen the many attractive displays from the photo contests in the Post Office lobby. Photographer Judy Schneider now runs the contest and designs the displays.
Recently Stream Teamers Katharine, Tom Jacques, a friend of Katharine’s and the old Closeteer visited her recently purchased house near the center of lovely Rye, New Hampshire. Rye’s many stonewalls, which have been kept intact over the centuries, greatly add to the lawns and remaining fields. We hope she isn’t moving to New Hampshire “To Live Free or Die.” Her two acre lot is surrounded on three sides by farmers’ stone walls, one abuts the firehouse. If she ever has fire trouble short hoses can wet her house down without vehicles being moved.

Middleton Steam Team paddlers on the Ipswich River March 9, 2016. Katharine Brown is wielding the bow paddle. – Sandy Rubchinuk photo

After leaving her modified cape, now in various stages of renovation, we drove easterly to the Atlantic’s edge and after a mile or so continued north on Route 1A within the sound of surf and the smell of seaweed en route to a meeting at the Seacoast Science Center held by ocean protection planners.* After the program, we called them collectors of data about humans’ connections with coastal waters out to 200 miles and beyond. A panel of four bureaucrats and a lobsterman followed a slick PR film entitled Ocean Frontiers III with talks about their organizations. In the little time allowed they answered questions from a few of the 60 or so folks in attendance who are interested in the human-stressed continental shelf from Florida to Newfoundland. The use of judgmental words like bureaucrats and slick here is perhaps unfair, the several groups cooperating are doing very important work by providing layer upon layer of up-to-date information for governmental agencies, environmental groups, and industries; e.g, fishing, aquaculture, wind farming and sand mining, in order ensure tranquilly and the protection of resources. The Seacoast Science Center where the panel very appropriately met is located on an important WWII site once riddled with bunkers that defended Portsmouth Harbor and its submarine shipyard and base. The guns are gone; on the land above the surf is a fine educational building for school field trips and gatherings such as the one we attended. Tide pools, a clamshell’s throw away are twice daily exposed for study.
In her new state Katharine’s coast of only 16 miles of beaches and exposed ledge is between the Merrimack and the Piscataqua rivers and the historic ports of Newburyport and Portsmouth, places rich in history dating back to prehistory when the land was locked in the Wisconsin Glacier’s deep ice. Her walls of stones deposited by the ice and later gathered into lines by English farmers are a very tangible part of that history. Three centuries earlier, about 500 years ago, gutsy men in little ships speaking Portuguese, French, and English from the misnamed “Old World” sailed 3000 miles plus each spring to waters off Rye and the Isles for their abundant fish.
Now our Katharine and her friends and visiting family near the sea will wade in the billions of years-old slowly warming and rising water. We’ll miss her and hope she’ll return now and then for Stream Team events. It would be nice if she’d organize a Rye Harbor to Isles of Shoals paddle for us Stream Teamers on some mild summer’s day, or better still start a Rye Stream Team.
* Aimee Bushman and Priscilla Brooks, Conservation Law Foundation; Betsy Nicholson, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration; Ted Diers, NH Division of Environmental Services; and David Kaselauskas, lobsterman, Kittery Point


Precipitation Data* for Month of: Dec Jan Feb March
30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches 4.12 3.40 3.25 4.65
   2016/2017 Central Watershed Actual 4.41 4.02 3.46 1.5**as of March 17

Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For March 17, 2017  Normal . . . 132 CFS     Current Rate . . . 57.7 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru Feb.
** Middleton Stream Team is the source of actual precipitation data for March.
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