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  • Bobbie Emery

Tributaries


When it rains, the western face of our traprock ridge collects all the rain drops as they seep through the talus slope and run under the rocky debris. The rainwater joins the groundwater and flows wherever it can through fractured layers of basalt. At the base of the ridge, the underground springs aggregate and flow until an easier route guides them gently out of the ground through a myriad of seeps and springs. The newly liberated water in turn feeds tiny tributaries which meander in and out of our pasture, eventually finding their way to Rice Brook.


Rice Brook passes under Mountain Spring Road through a culvert which, although designed for a “500-year storm,” I’ve already seen overflow twice. (I swear I’m not that old.) Once safely under the road, the brook heads west a few hundred yards before bending south through what was once my grandmother’s cow pasture.


The cows were long gone by the time my cousin and I cooled off in the part of the stream that my mom always referred to as “the spot where the cow got stuck.” Even after 80 years, the memory of it still caused her to laugh out loud and say – “oh my! what a production that was to get her unstuck!”


From the old cow pasture, Rice Brook heads west again where it crosses under Waterville Road and after a brief cameo as a water feature on the Tunxis Golf Course, dumps into the Farmington River as the river makes its journey north.


When the “Farmington” finally discovers the break in the ridgeline it traveled 15 miles out of its way to find, it takes a dramatic U-turn through Tariffville Gorge and races with alacrity through the wreckage of Spoonville Dam. Then as if taking a well-deserved rest, it mellows and widens, eventually dumping leisurely into the Connecticut River and journeys to Long Island sound and the Atlantic Ocean.


I should think a raindrop, if it doesn’t linger, could make the roughly 60-mile journey in a day. And if the weather conditions and timing are just right - our raindrop might get vaporized into a rain cloud miles above and blown back to our ridgetop in Farmington, just in time for evening chores. Or it could travel to distant lands where perhaps the water is needed more.


As unpleasant as it can be to work outside when it’s pouring rain, I am thankful (sometimes more so than other times) for receiving an ample amount of one of the few essential ingredients needed for life here on earth – and as the rain drops come pouring down sometimes in greater quantity or velocity than I would like – I sincerely wish them well. “Bon Voyage my friends. Godspeed!”




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