Friday, April 30, 2010

Assabet River - White Pond Rd. to Lake Boon Outlet and Return

This afternoon the Assabet River was trash patrolled between the Maynard/Stow line at White Pond Road to a point upstream where the outlet from Lake Boon enters the river.  Conditions were pleasant though still a bit on the breezy side.
Most of the trash encountered today looked old as though it had been outdoors for quite a long spell.
After passing the small private airport, I came upon a beaver worksite. Here a busy beaver, and perhaps his associates had been recently enjoying some tasty white birch...

On the upstream side of the Sudbury Road bridge I was surprised to see a piece of household plumbing.  I'll bet there's an interesting story as to how this came to rest at the water's edge...
This item was left where it lies.  It could be accessed from the road easily by someone who's not too sensitive to poison ivy.
Wildlife seen today consisted of the usual gang: mallards, wood ducks, Canada geese, a lone mute swan, red-winged blackbirds, numerous turtles, and a flying snake.  It's true!  I looked up to see a snake crossing the river about 25 feet above my head.  The unlucky snake happened to be dangling from the talons of a red-tailed hawk.  The hawk took up a perch on a large dead tree near where Elizabeth Brook enters the Assabet.  Before I could get a photo, it flew to another tree further from the brook.
Favorite piece of music heard while on the water today was Richie Haven's rendition of Pete Seeger's song Of Time and Rivers Flowing.
The trash haul for the day was 72 pieces and they posed in the mid-afternoon sunshine...
The breakdown: 37 recyclable containers (4 redeemable) and 35 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, a balloon, nip bottles (8), and styrofoam containers.  My YTD total stands at 1966.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poem In Your Pocket Day

Mrs. Trashpaddler informed me that today is national Poem In Your Pocket Day, so it took only a minute for me to recall my personal favorite and stash it in my pocket.
It's a little poem that plays on the pronunciation of an island's name.  The island is off the coast of Maine was named Isle au Haut by Samuel Champlain.

“Says the summer man, when the fog hangs low,

‘There’s bridal wreath over Isle au Haut’;

But the fisherman says when he launches his boat,

‘It’s gosh darn foggy off Isle au Haut.’ “

As far as I can tell, the author is unknown.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bottom Mile of both the Sudbury & Assabet Rivers

This afternoon I trash patrolled the bottom mile of the Sudbury River to Egg Rock and then ascended the last mile of the Assabet River to a point just upstream of Spencer Brook.  Water levels have dropped substantially from where they were during the floods of March.
Between Egg Rock and the Leaning Hemlocks, I came upon a beaver lodge built behind a large fallen tree that appears fortress-like....

A little further upriver, I saw this fallen faux coyote who may well have frightened his last Canada goose...
At Willow Island this strange site was seen...

A deer hunter's tree stand perhaps? 
Actually it is testament to just how high the water levels were.  There were also several plastic bags tightly embracing trees on the island.
Conditions were a little moody with clouds and occasional drizzle.  Just right for listening to songs by the late Fred Neil.  Particularly enjoyed was his "Other Side of This Life".
Wildlife seen were mallards, wood ducks, Canada geese, great blue herons, red-winged blackbirds, and quite a few grey squirrels.  
Back at my takeout location today's 83 refugees were denied their moment in the sun and instead posed under dismal skies...

The breakdown was 35 recyclables (7 redeemable) and 48 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam, nip bottles, and a stately lawn chair.  My YTD total stands at 1894.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Run of the Charles Canoe & Kayak Race

The Charles River Watershed Association has been working diligently to improve the Charles River since 1965.  Today they held their 28th Run of the Charles Canoe & Kayak Race.  This event allows hundreds of paddlers and their families to see first hand the improvements in water quality that have been achieved.
As I waited for my boat class to begin heading downriver from Riverdale Park in Dedham, 4 pieces of trash made me aware of their desire to make the trip as stowaways.  I explained that this wasn't going to be a mellow trash patrol but instead a 19-mile race with lots of portages and even a short stretch of rapids where things could get dicey.  They were undeterred and promised to hang on tight.  When all was said and done, and my boat had made landfall at DCR's Artesani Park in Brighton, they were still securely onboard.  A good time was had by all!
My YTD totals stands at 1811.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Little Trash Pedalling and Reflecting on Earlier Earth Days

Was it really 40 years ago that the first Earth Day was celebrated?  I remember this song by the late Jim Pepper and his group, Everything is Everything, as having really captured the feeling that was floating around at that time...

There was also a "lighter" version by Brewer & Shipley...

But if you stayed up late at night you were able to hear the best version of all on FM radio...

Rough translation of chant: "Water spirit feelings springin' round my head, Makes me feel glad that I'm not dead"

This Kenyan proverb also applies:

Treat the Earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents.
It was loaned to you by your children.

This afternoon's splendid weather afforded Mrs. Trashpaddler and I an opportunity for a little 'trash pedal' in our local haunts.  As usual, most of the trash was in the immediate vicinity of streams and culverts.  The total was a modest 19 pieces of roadside litter.  The breakdown: 8 recyclable (2 redeemable) and 11 miscellaneous rubbish.  Combined with an even more modest haul of 3 plastic bags while paddling the Concord River yesterday, my YTD total stands at 1802.  Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Charles River - A Little Ways Upstream from Norumbega

With only a week remaining until the Run of the Charles, I decided to checkout part of the course and conduct a trash patrol at the same time.  Skies were fairly fickle with showers and dark clouds bracketed by occasional peeks at the sun.  After launching at the Norumbega Duck Feeding Area, I headed upriver into a steady  current.  Initially a belted kingfisher was scouting ahead for me.  However, he transferred me over to this Mute Swan that paddled my right flank for nearly a half-mile above Riverside...

It was interesting to see the swan show a few unruly Canada geese who the real boss was.  
  Upon reaching the Leo J. Martin Memorial golf course, I made a point of seeing how much clearance there was under the golfcart bridge that crosses the river there.  Downriver paddlers will see this view as they approach the bridge...
Proceeding to the left of the small island will reveal these 2 passageways with adequate headroom...
To the right of the island, not so much! 
The bridge became my turnaround point and the swift current provided an almost effortless ride back to Norumbega.  Along the way I observed red-winged blackbirds, the earlier mentioned swan and Canada geese, a deceased beaver, a kestral, and several red-tailed hawks.
Also encountered today were several groups of canoe and kayak paddlers that appeared to be scoping out the course of next weekend's race as well.
The small beach at Riverside made a great spot for a group photo of the day's haul...

Today's breakdown: 55 recyclable containers (10 redeemable) and 89 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as styrofoam, plastic bags, fishing gear, and nip bottles. My YTD total stands at 1785.
This coming Saturday (4/24) the Charles River Watershed Association will hold their 11th Annual Charles River Cleanup. More than 3,000 volunteers will conduct a major offensive covering all 80 miles of the river's shores.  Anyone interested in signing up should visit their web site:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Concord River - Egg Rock to Great Meadows & Back

Today provided a nice opportunity to conduct a trash patrol of the Old North Bridge area before the arrival of the British.  Skies were sunny, temperatures pleasant, and a busy breeze gave the water a rippled surface in places.
Wildlife seen today were mallards, a wood duck, Canada geese, a red-tailed hawk, a white-breasted nuthatch, painted turtles, and a beaver with whom I briefly paddled alongside till he tail-slapped the water and disappeared below. 
Trash from the great flood still lingers amongst the brambles and back eddies.  Between Egg Rock and Great Meadows Landing 148 pieces of trash were netted.  The day's catch broke down as follows: 54 recyclable (6 redeemable) and 94 pieces of misc. rubbish such as nip bottles, fishing gear, styrofoam and plastic bags.  The majority of the trash was found just upstream of the North Bridge and just downstream of Flint's Bridge or Monument Street.  My YTD total stands at 1641. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Standing the Test of Time

Now that the floodwaters have receded and the last of the many closed roads are finally open again, I find myself reflecting on a recent photograph of a long ago abandoned railroad.  The roadbed pictured at left was built 131 years ago in 1879 and was known as the Reformatory Branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad.  The last train ran down this line sometime in early 1927.  The photograph was taken on April 3, 2010 within a day or two of the highest water levels seen around these parts in quite some time, yet the roadbed is high and dry.  After 83 years of sitting idle, this roadbed looks to be in perfect condition. How is it that the original builders, way back in 1879,  knew almost exactly how high to elevate the roadbed above the Assabet River in order to withstand the "Hundred Year" flood?  Clearly they built it to last and they succeeded.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for much of our more recently built infrastructure.  Many of the major commuter roadways were rendered useless for weeks. Several communities found their wastewater collection systems overwhelmed with stormwater and, left with few options, elected to bypass treatment and discharge directly into the rivers and bays. 
So if the folks that built this roadbed were around today, what advice would they give us in building a better infrastructure?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sudbury River - Route 62 to Martha's Point and Back

Trash patrolled the Sudbury River this morning up to Martha's Point and back.  Cloudy and cool at outset then sunny, windy, and warm at finish.
River levels have remained high for quite some time now.  Most of today's trash was encountered between the MBTA commuter rail bridge and the Sudbury Road causeway.
Wildlife seen this morning were mallards, Canada geese , red-winged blackbirds, tree swallows, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and a couple of musquashes.  Also  saw two guys in a racing canoe getting in some training (perhaps for the upcoming Run of the Charles?)
My haul for the day was 83 pieces of trash.  The breakdown was as follows: 35 recyclable (13 redeemable) and 48 pieces of misc. rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam cups, a fertilizer bag, and bait tubs.  Pretty much the usual.  YTD total stands at 1493. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lake Cochituate's North Pond

Today's trash patrol of Cochituate's North Pond had quite the summerlike feel.  Air temperatures were in the 80's and an afternoon breeze was building out of the southwest.   Arriving at the DCR's Cartop Boat Launching Area I found things quiet and peaceful.   Just as I began to think I wouldn't have my usual  encounter with the 'denizen of the local woods' I heard his voice emanate from the trees along the shore.  I turned around to see him standing on the bank from where I had just launched.  Acting in his quasi-official capacity he asked if I would help confirm that a large white object on the pond's west side was the broken-off stern section of a day-sailboat.  At the same time he brought me up to date with other relevant local news... Cochituate had just been stocked with trout and a lucky fisherman had recently caught a 28" Atlantic salmon.  At length I agreed to reconnoiter the large white object and paddled to the other side of the pond.  Sure enough, just as he said, it was the broken stern section of a "Snark" day-sailboat.  This became the single largest piece of trash I've recovered to date after it was freed from the shrubbery and pushed (by my boat's prow) back to the landing.  The 'denizen' and I pulled it ashore as can be seen in this photo...  

I then re-launched and began trash patrolling the shoreline of the North Pond.  The newest weapon in my arsenal, the "Come Hither" proved ideal for reaching further onto the shore and snagging previously unreachable trash.  It worked like a "dream come true"!  Paddling along the shoreline I noted a pair of swans, a few Canada geese, a few ducks, and a few small fishing boats.  The music most enjoyed today was James Keelaghan's song Cold Missouri Waters.  Give it a listen at this link.  Play song at upper right. 
Lake Cochituate made for a most idyllic spot to wile away the day.  Brings to mind the line from Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows..."There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." 
At the conclusion of my patrol, the day's catch was removed from my boat and posed for a photo under the watchful eye of 'Come Hither'. 

The count for the day was 77 pieces.  There were 44 recyclables (26 redeemable) and 33 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as plastic bags, styrofoam cups, and an "Old Navy" frisbee.  My YTD total stands at 1410.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Assabet River - Egg Rock to Rt.2 and Back

Today's beautiful weather conditions allowed this trash paddler to experience some incredibly high water levels on the Assabet River. As you can see in the opening photo, the bridge at Route 2 offered passage to only the intrepid and nimble.
After launching into the lower Sudbury River, I paddled down to Egg Rock picking up a quick 34 pieces of trash enroute. Reaching Egg Rock my bow veered to the left into and against the chugging current of the Assabet in flood. Trash was plentiful and a good amount was recovered by paddling through what is usually woods...

Of course Dodge Rock and Willow Island were submerged. At a point about 2-miles up from Egg Rock, I found a small piece of terra firma where I could land my boat for transloading purposes. It was at the base of the long abandoned Reformatory Branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad. Before landing however, I had to wait till this sunbather moved to another spot...

Once the snake moved off, I was left to enjoy this view down the old RR right of way towards the prison...

Other wildlife seem today were wood ducks, two swans, Canada geese, Mucovite ducks, and numerous turtles.
After reaching and passing under Route 2, I turned around and began riding the swift current back to my starting point. Once ashore, my vessel disgorged its contents....

Today's haul netted 197 pieces of trash and brought my YTD total to 1333. The recyclable portion was 122 plastic, aluminum, or glass containers. Out of the 122 only 26 were redeemable. The miscellaneous trash portion consisted of 75 pieces. There were balloons, styrofoam cups and floatation, plastic bags, packaging material etc.
Most egregious was a half-full container of motor oil and another partially filled container of Wesson cooking oil. Least egregious was the perfectly good hand pump that can be used for bailing purposes.
This last photo demonstrates my point about redeemable containers being disqualified for redemption due to original label having fallen off.
The number of containers without proper papers was 29...