The Water Closet for April 1, 2016
[pullquote]”The stone long valued in the spot where it landed from space or was somehow formed in the earth is now worth many times more with the thoughts and sweat of a friend and his grandson in its pores.”[/pullquote]For years on our woodland walks in north Middleton we’ve passed a tablespoon shaped pool, a hundred feet long, fifty wide, and six foot deep. Each winter and spring it half fills with water and in the summer dries up. We thought it a vernal pool but have never found in it wood frogs, mole salamanders, or fairy shrimp, animals that distinguish such ephemeral water bodies. The strangest thing about this pool with no trees or bushes was an odd stone in its center. The stone is composed of two entwined types of rock, one dark gray, the other light gray, with bubbles, cavities, and ridges like two taffies half mixed together. The rock types do not resemble those making up the nearby granite ledges. The stone, roughly three, by two, by two feet, hardly budges when pushed on by foot. It seems denser than the lichen decorated stones in walls and the glacial scatterings in the area. “Far out,” a hippy might say upon examination. We old timers, who missed the hippy period, and who marveled at the stone also thought “far out”. Our early hypothesis was it might have come from outer space. We then noted the shape of the crater-like depression where the stone was centered and the dearth of plants therein. Craters are usually round; this one oval might easily be explained because of the ridges of rock ledge on either side of the depression’s long axis. The imagined explosion upon landing blew out the ends more than the sides. Others claiming some knowledge of meteors say it doesn’t look like a meteor to them.
Every few years upon passing we ponder again its origin; each time our speculations expand leaving us further in doubt. Once while stopping for yet another look the old Closeteer casually mentioned to friend Red, “This stone would make a good grave marker for my wife and me on our one thousandth acre plot down at Oakdale Cemetery.” With no intention of doing so a seed was planted in his friend’s mind.
Now and then these past few months Red visited the quarter-ton stone with a rugged toboggan and chain fall. Alone, he laboriously, foot by foot, pulled the rock on the improvised stone boat up out of the pool’s center to its edge so it would not be under water come late winter and spring. In mid March his grandson Jonathan, 13, a good lad long admired by the old Closeteer, hauled the might-be-meteor a mile over rough logging roads in the bucket of his employer’s Kubota tractor to “Beepa’s” pickup (Red is called Beepa by grandchildren.) on a paved road. The bucket safely tipped the stone aboard. Beepa then telephoned the old Closeteer. “Meet me down at the cemetery in half an hour. The stone is ready for your site at Oakdale.”
The old men met and got the stone in place without heart attacks or crushed limbs using planks and pry bars. It now lies under a great oak in the high southeast corner of beautiful Oakdale Cemetery overlooking the Closeteer’s beloved Ipswich River. It rests two miles as the goose flies from the intermittent pool from whence it came, and maybe light years away from its source. There it awaits a small bronze plaque with names and dates. The Closeteer worries about marking such a fine gift so may leave the ancient rock without fleeting names.
Perhaps someday a geologist will visit the stone with a descendant of Red’s or the Closeteer’s and without having been told the story upon seeing it will loudly exclaim “Far out!” If he doesn’t and guesses it of more mundane origin, no bother. The stone long valued in the spot where it landed from space or was somehow formed in the earth is now worth many times more with the thoughts and sweat of a friend and his grandson in its pores.
_______________________________________________________________________________WATER RESOURCE AND CONSERVATION INFORMATIONFOR MIDDLETON, BOXFORD AND TOPSFIELD`
|Precipitation Data* for Month of:||Dec||Jan||Feb||Mar|
|30 Year Normal (1981 – 2010) Inches||4.12||3.40||3.25||4.65|
|2015/2016 Central Watershed Actual||4.72||3.31||3.72||5.3**as of Mar 28|
Ipswich R. Flow Rate (S. Middleton USGS Gage) in Cubic Feet/ Second (CFS):
For March 28, 2016 Normal . . . 143 CFS Current Rate . . . 109 CFS
*Danvers Water Filtration Plant, Lake Street, Middleton is the source for actual precipitation data thru Feb.
**Middleton Stream Team is 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