Tail race from Damon Mill

Dad’s condo is across the street from Damon Mill in West Concord, a mid-nineteenth century brick mill building now converted to offices. The old outflow stream from the mill, technically a “tail race,” flows right behind Dad’s condo and thence into the Assabet River.


Above: The tail race from Damon Mill; the main current of the Assabet River is visible through the trees.

A cold front went through last night, and this morning when we got up, there was a skin of ice on the tail race; leaves and twigs that had been floating on the surface of the water got frozen into the skin of ice. It was cold enough today that the ice never melted. I took the above photo at 3 p.m., and there’s the skin of ice, still holding on to the leaves and twigs.

A week ago, Dad and I walked around the edge of the field below his condo. But today it was too cold to walk that far. We made it to Dad’s garden, which is close by his condo, before he decided he wanted to turn around. We did see, however, that there is still one last pea plant struggling to survive the cold snap. It’s supposed to get up to sixty degrees on Monday, so perhaps the pea plant will revive then.

Assabet River


Above: The Assabet River, just below the Pine Street bridge in Concord, Mass., on 15 Nov. 2014

Tonight, my father’s brother Lee, and my cousins Lynn and Steve came up to visit Dad. Uncle Lee spent his career as a chemist, but I would be more likely to call him a practical icthyologist; he knows as much about the biology of fish as anyone else I know; he raises something on the order of a hundred different species of fish in his basement, and he’s an avid fisherman of wide experience. For her part, my cousin Lynn works for MassWildlife as a habitat protection specialist, and has a wide knowledge of many different Massachusetts ecosystems, including rivers, streams, and ponds.

As we were eating our dinner (we had fish, of course), Uncle Lee and Lynn got to talking about fish. Between them, they covered the possible effects of global climate change on lake trout in Canadian lakes; invasive Asian carp in the Midwest; the reintroduction of sturgeon into the Chesapeake River; which species of fish were native in Eastern Massachusetts rivers; etc. Since the Assabet River is visible from Dad’s living room window, of course we talked about the SuAsCo (Sudbury/Assabet/Concord) river system. I tried to participate in the conversation, but it was far more interesting to listen to the two of them. At one point, I looked at Steve and said, “Isn’t it interesting to listen to two fish experts talk?” He agreed. It’s always interesting to hear people talk about something they know well.