Published: Jun 10, 2008 08:22 PM
Modified: Jun 10, 2008 08:22 PM
When I started on this column I had a concept about June being the bridge between spring and summer -- some hot and humid days sprinkled in with occasional cooler days and nights, a slow transition from spring vegetables to the traditional summer fare of tomatoes, beans, squash and cukes. Blueberries, daylilies, fireflies and long pleasant evenings would lead us lazily to the official start of summer on June 20.
But no. We leapt straight into the fire with a scorching forecast of two weeks with temperatures in the upper 90s -- or higher.
When my thermometer hit 100, I threw on a bathing suit, slipped into my water shoes and headed down to the creek. We're fortunate to have access to a winding, shady stretch of Morgan Creek about a mile above University Lake. The air is often 10 degrees cooler down there than it is up at the house.
Walking the trail I noticed that the side streams have all but stopped flowing, and it worries me that despite the rains we've had this spring, the groundwater still hasn't been replenished. I wondered about the creek itself; after being bone dry for more than five months last year, would it rebound?
As I waded into Morgan I was pleased to see there were tiny fish again, and healthy sized crawdads and mussel shells too.
Four times a year we collect information on what's living in the stream to gauge water quality for the Haw River Assembly. In 10 years of monitoring, we've seen development upstream cloud the creek with runoff and silt. The tiny black shells of gilled snails once covered every rock in the stream. Now they're gone. Despite this, our section of Morgan Creek remains one of the healthiest in all of the areas monitored by the HRA.
Right now the water is running clear and cool. I head to my swimming hole, just deep enough to sit in water up to my chin. It's so chilly I have to ease in gradually, then brace myself and submerge. I float for a bit on my back, breathing deeply and letting the coolness seep into my hot skin. It helps drop my core temp a few degrees after I've been working outside until my clothes are soaked and I'm red-faced.
After a dip in the creek I like to spend the evening with an icy drink, playing croquet. If the temperatures stay as high as the gas prices, everyone will be searching for ways to cool off close to home. Hopefully the rains will keep up, we'll see some cooler days, and we can be refreshed in our Piedmont rivers, streams and lakes without having to travel.
But if the creeks go dry again, I'll be the first to pump some dollars in the gas tank and head to the mountains in search of cold rushing water to soothe my overheated soul.
Maria Hitt writes, cooks, gardens and studies nature in the country-side near Carrboro. You can write to her at email@example.com or visit her blog at morgancreekchronicles.blogspot.co