Dry

by Carl Strang

Last week was the first session of this year’s Roger Raccoon Club. One of the highlights always is the creek hike, which takes place during the overnight campout. We camp at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, and in the afternoon head over to Sawmill Creek and walk up that shallow stream to the dam, where we spend a good couple of hours. This time, though, we discovered a clear consequence of this year’s drought.

The streambed was dry for nearly all its length.

I don’t remember seeing this before. I knew, though, that there would be pools here and there, and the kids were eager to find what animals might have been concentrated in them.

The pools thus became collecting points for children as well as critters.

Crayfish were a popular focus of catch-and-release efforts.

Max shows one of the bigger ones.

There were minnows, as well, and a water snake.

Paige, whose reputation as the group’s champion frog-catcher was established on the first two days of the program, caught a bullhead that had taken refuge beneath a rock.

Most kids repeat the program, and so they either have seen the stream in its more typical flow, or will do so next year. Most of their best lessons are learned through direct experience of nature rather than through any jabbering I may do.

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