Cascading Waters can be found at 135 Olean Street on the eastern edge of Worcester's northwest parklands, the Cascades. The Cascades are 350 acres of park and conservation lands along the borders of Worcester, Paxton, and Holden, Massachusetts. Home to countless species of plants and animals, the Cascades are open to passive recreation year-round.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rain, finally

Last night we had 0.12 inches of rain after midnight, and nothing to speak of before.
While it was enough to get everything wet, that isn't much water.
We're sitting here looking at the mud in Cook's Pond and wondering if it's getting any deeper. While the U.S. Forest service map is down, so we don't have the fire danger map, it won't help with that, either.
At noon, it is 68 degrees.
92% humidity
Overcast skies with a steady barometer of 29.97 inches
The Cascades and the brook continue to trickle.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Feeling like fall

I suppose that makes it easier to get on a school bus this morning.
At 8:15 am, it is 62 degrees
92 humidity
Clear high skies with the barometer steady at 30.00 inches
It looks as though Cook's Pond is gradually refilling across the street; good, as we aren't up for rain until this weekend.

We didn't get to posting yesterday, as it was the remainder of a take-down day for the Outpost. We had a busload of Holy Cross students here at 9:30. Heading up to the Cascades, they carried out the (giant, heavy) tent, camping supplies, and finally the two sections of platform. They, and that load, made it back down here for lunchtime.

(Just in time for the Lodge dwellers to make tracks for Freeport, as we've got a kindergartener who was in need of a backpack!)

So the Outpost is down for the winter, with all stored away in hopes of another round next summer!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

School buses are rolling...

Did you notice all of them out there practicing yesterday?

A bit chilly this morning!
At 9 am, it is 57 degrees
78% humidity
Barometer is steady at 29.91 inches
Fire danger remains LOW
We never got any of that rain to speak of yesterday. Here's hoping the fish hold out!

The excavator next door fired up at 7 am today and has been busy. There's a rumor going through the neighborhood that they don't intend to build out the property, perhaps only building a few of the houses for family. We'll see...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Of Bounds and Impounds

Ok, so dig this...

We get a call this a.m. from a woman who is sure that the pond is still draining.
We promise to go and look for ourselves as I saw the guys close the valve, and saw the flow stop days ago (Saturday).
(In the back of my mind I wondered if the release pipe had gotten undermined somehow, if her story pans out.)

This afternoon I go out to the Olean Street frontage and the water looks more or less the same, and then I turn my head and look north and it looks drier.
I go up to the north end of the pond and it sure does look drier.

After making a call another person goes out, but this time to the south end of the pond by the dam.
There is no outflow (good), and the water level seems to him to be rising.
Huh, how's that?

I go out to the dam myself, and sure enough, no outflow (good) and the water level is rising (also good). Heck the fish are jumping all over at the dusk light for insects!

So what gives?

Here is my guess:

Pools were left behind to the north on Saturday, which is the shallower end of the pond and the part of the pond that was clearly flooded by the dam to make the pond as big as it is.
The pond had only recently gone down and everything was still wet.
While the flow did stop, the pools were nevertheless on higher ground, even if they were cut off, and over time water sought its own level.
Thus, drier to the north, but overall the pond is reflooding.
Or I am just plain crazy.

Weirdest dang situation.

And then there is the continuing land clearing on our southern flank here at the Lodge.
To date the guy in the forwarder has been great about leaving a buffer on the conservation land of some 8-10 feet. Nevertheless, step away to grab some groceries, come back and decades of tree and understory growth can disappear. So we posted the bound line on the southern and western flank with Greater Worcester Land Trust Property Boundary tags.
Theoretically this, in addition to the operator's caution, as well as the project's own site flagging, should ensure that the project doesn't creep over and accidentally undo what nature has been hard at work at.
This was also a great chance to look carefully at the trunks of numbers of trees, and to look for yard waste dumping (yeah there was some), and trash (not so much thankfully.)

And so ends another busy day here at the Lodge.

Presently it is 8:38 p.m.:
the temperature is 66.0 degrees F and falling,
the humidity is 82% and steady,
the pressure is 29.80" of Hg and steady,
and the USFS Fire Danger Class is LOW.

By the way, unfortunately those rain storms never materialized, so the refill continues in slow trickle mode.

Some help for Cook's Pond

Looks like a line of storms will be coming to the rescue of those bass (in time, we hope!)

At 9 am, it is 68 degrees
95% humidity
Barometer is steady at 29.77 inches, showing rain
Fire danger continues at LOW
Although things are damp, we have had no measurable rain so far today

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Case of the Disapearing Pond

Last Sunday I noted that the Cooks Pond across Olean Street was really low.
On Tuesday I spoke with one of the owners of the pond who was at a loss as well.

But the water level seemed stable, and there has to be a reason for the drop I thought, besides I was distracted by the Asian Longhorned Beetles even in my sleep.

Friday things 'seemed' a bit lower.
This Saturday they were clearly even lower and folks were calling.
After some scrambling we all worked together to stop that.

Finally I have an answer to the quandary: where did the pond go anyway?

The pond is controlled by a dam, and the dam has a release valve.
The valve assembly had unfortunately been messed with earlier, and in an effort to fix that vandalism up and protect the mechanics of the dam the owners of the pond decided to lower the pond level slightly to better access things.
When they opened the valve they discovered that the flow was obstructed and the water wasn't being released.
They opened the valve wider, but still not much flow.
They opened the valve all the way.

Well, over the week the blockage slowly was working its way out, and by Saturday morning the valve was fully open and the flow was going great guns draining the pond away.
Problem was that the sudden change wasn't immediately moderated by a judicious closing the valve. Alas.
Thankfully the neighbors were observant, persistent, and concerned.

The valve was re-closed, the water flow was stopped, and now the slow process of refilling begins as the Cascades Brook, the Tatnuck Brook, and the Moreland Brook all work to raise the water level.

Some interesting observations from a neighbor on the extreme draw down:

There are pretty large tree stumps typically submerged that have tops that look to have been chopped by beavers way back in the day to the eyes of Brendan.

There are some amazingly large bass revealed that live in the pond regularly avoiding being caught by decades of folks persistent trying.

Watch Cooks Pond as it refills.
Thanks to all who noticed and called or dropped by to get things figured out.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Clear skies and construction

The excavator is busy next door; more trees coming down.
(And don't we all hope that none of them are maples with ALB??)

At 2:45 pm, it is 81 degrees
60% humidity and falling
Barometer is reading 30.27 inches
Fire danger is LOW, 'though expect to see it go up over the weekend if we get the clear skies forecast.
We've had some bicycles and a few dog walkers go through this afternoon.

If you'd like to help out the Trust on beetlemania...

The Greater Worcester Land Trust needs your help to survey conservation land for signs of the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). ALB cause massive destruction to trees and if not eradicated quickly could lead to the loss thousands of trees on conservation land in Worcester County. We will be training volunteers to survey and identify ALB on Wednesday September 3rd 5:30 PM at the GWLT office (101 Water St. Worcester, 4th floor). The training will take aprox. and hour and a half. Please RSVP to Anne: 508-795-3838 or
If you are interested in helping, but unable to attend this training please let us know so that we can tell you about future trainings. We will need to survey over 800 acres of forest before the first heavy frost so everyone who is able to contribute time is needed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Asian Longhorned Beetles

Like it says.... Contact Anne!

The Asian Invasion: Beetle Mania

So, the Long Horned Beetles are here from Asia.

Much like a movie, the Feds have declared a quarantine and moved in and set up camp.
They will be here for at least 5 years and more will be arriving daily.

I have been rolling this around in my head for the last few days and it feels like a twist on cancer.
We need to kill the trees to save the forest, we don't know how far it has spread, and we know that the treatment will not just hurt but actually kill.
Unlike cancer this is very communicable and it is unethical and immoral for us not to dive in and begin this killing treatment as soon as we possibly can.
So we wait for the frost to descend.

It is a hard thing, and there really isn't a chance to sit around and adjust to this new status.

Anyone who took comfort from it being "only" in Greendale needs a wake up call.
Greendale was where it was first noticed.
The ring expands all the time.
Expect lots, if not all, of Central Massachusetts to be in the quarantine before we are done.
We are just now starting to look, not finishing.

Positively, in 1898 Worcester was celebrating a milestone birthday as a City. They went around and photographed everything. And the landscape that they photographed was bare fields and hills with nothing but grasses and mud. Worcester was deforested.

But look harder at those photos and you see something else.
Seedlings, and saplings, tied to poles, strung up in tripods sitting along every street.
Hope and expectation.
This forest we enjoy by in large wasn't.
It will recover from what we must do, but it will need our help.

And this time we won't plant Norway Maples and Ailanthus! (Crazy Invasive Trees)

GWLT will need volunteers to survey the woods and mark trees that have beetles.
Many many folks need to be drafted to this effort.
Yeah, that means you.

Email and tell her you are ready, willing, and able to help with Beetle Mania.

Presently it is 8:00 am,
the temperature is 55.4 degrees F and rising,
the humidity is 80% and falling,
the pressure is 30.03" Hg and steady,
and the USFS fire danger is LOW.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

About that development next door

For those of you wondering just what the heck is going on next door, we do have the proposed plan here at the Lodge; if you're interested, let us know.
To give you the quick rundown: they're putting in a cul-de-sec ("Olean Circle") on the south (Tatnuck Square) side of the current house. There will be three houses behind the current house (on the Cascading Waters side), two on the end of the circle (backing up to the backyards of the houses on Cataract Street), and one on the south side (they don't own as much land on that side). Yes, that's six houses there, and won't we all be interested in how they squeeze them all in!

It's nice

Very busy around here with hikers this morning, and we've already had a truck pull in next door.

At 8:30 am, it is 69 degrees and rising.
89% humidity
Barometer is steady at 29.74
Looks like there's a small line of clouds coming through this morning.
Fire danger is LOW

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wild Worcester

And by now, I imagine many of you have seen our amazing summer interns in their Worcester Magazine cover story...
They've done amazing work up there and we are very proud of them!

UPDATE: Here's another link through Noah Bombard's site.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cascades are Running

The past week has seen a fair amount of rainfall and as a result the Cascades are indeed running.

The trailhead has seen moderate to heavy use today with hikers passing through.

Presently it is 4:02pm,
the pressure is 29.83" Hg and steady,
the temperature is 74.7 degrees F and falling,
the humidity is 66% and rising,
there has been no new rainfall since midnight,
the USFS fire danger is low,
and the radar map shows no new storms inbound at the moment.

Note: There is land clearing work going on to our south as the neighbors push through in building a small subdivision.
Note 2: The same fate was slated for the Lodge and Cascading Waters along the brook and trail not too long ago, so take some heart.
Note 3: Much as we have taken great care to observe the development that went on the north line of Cascading Waters with an eye towards conservation, so we will be watching over this project as well.

Apologies for the gap in time but the Lodge has been under interim management as we have been off exploring other portions of the North American continent.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Big Ole Raccoon!

Last night in the recently rain drenched world I set out.

Something moving at the end of the driveway, and something big!

It was the really fat next door neighboring raccoon wandering around.

It is always reassuring to see him.

As a kid, raccoons were my favorite wild critter. When I was growing up we used to have and see raccoons all the time. I spent years trying to outsmart them regarding the trash can in the backyard. Then the period of rabies some years back really set them back in terms of population, to the point where I used to see raccoons most as road kill. But not this time, not this night!

Go funky little hunchbacked critter!

As of 8:15 am the weather is:

67.8 degrees F and rising
98% humidity and steady
29.59" of Mercury and steady
All of yesterday's rain totals 0.71"
USFS Forest Fire Danger class is LOW