September lurked in and advertised its arrival with some very pleasant temperatures and sunny days but noticeably shortening daylight, cooler nights, and that unmistakable earthy smell of fall. Besides heralding the Goshen Fair, the long Labor Day Weekend brought a bevy of families and children taking advantage of the last weekend oasis at Topsmead before school started in earnest. Yes, of course, they were all happy for school to restart—children to see their friends and favorite teachers and parents to find more time to get their jobs and chores finished between the bus pick ups and drop offs. Without the bustling energy of family visitors, school mornings will be noticeably quieter at Topsmead. Once again, the landscape will be the domain of retired folks, dog walkers, and the occasional visitor enjoying morning coffee in a chair on the cottage’s west veranda.
The Memorial Tree Planting initiative has been going well this year. A plaque in the Welcome Center identifies six new young trees and in whose memory they have been planted: two crabapples, one sugar maple, one oak, one white oak, and one dogwood. These new trees are part of the next generation of trees at Topsmead.
However, the dry summer has put the new young trees at risk. I heard a rumor that one of the trees has a special caretaker. Whoever had the tree planted has been toting buckets of water to pour on the tree’s roots and keep it hydrated. That is true commitment, both to the tree and to the person the tree is in memory of.
In addition, a walkabout of the Topsmead ponds reveals further effects of the dry summer. Both ponds are lower than normal. At Stairs Pond on the Yellow Trail, the receding water is leaving muddy shoreline and the boardwalk over the outlet’s earthen dam is high and dry. The smaller pond on the Ecology Trail appears to be full of water and is bordered with lush green growth, but upon a closer look, the outlet normally flowing under the stone walkover and tumbling down the stone causeway is dry as a bone.
In fact, according to the State’s Interagency Drought Workgroup report of July, “precipitation shortfalls, reduced ground water levels, stream flows, and soil moisture impacts are especially pronounced” and have necessitated the Workgroup to announce a level 2 drought for the entire state.
After checking my go-to Farmer’s Almanac for September’s long-range weather forecast, I am happy to report that the Almanac is predicting a wet September. We certainly can use the rain so bring it on, September!