Posts Tagged ‘culvert’

Art by Maurice Sendak for the Ruth Krauss book Open House for Butterflies.

One hot day after dinner, I had an urge to follow Ruth Krauss’s advice, “Everybody should be quiet near a little stream and listen.”

It gave me two challenges. The first challenge was to find a little stream. The second — because if I were to sit on the bank like the child in the Sendak illustration, I might have trouble getting back up — was to find a little stream where there was a bench.

To my surprise, there was in fact a bench facing the Mill Brook behind Main Streets Café. The restaurant had set several benches around for customers waiting at its outdoor eating area, and some inspired worker had turned one toward the stream.

So I sat there a while, and as I sat, I began to wonder if there were other sections of this stream with benches. I also wondered where the stream went.

When I was working at the Boston Fed, I went to a conference about towns like Pawtucket, Rhode Island, getting the idea to “daylight” waterways that had long been hidden in culverts under streets. Towns have been burying assets like that for centuries. Why? Daylighting has really transformed Pawtucket and would be good everywhere.

I’m not sure where the Mill Brook starts, but I can tell you that from a swampy shopping center parking lot, it runs under the pretty pedestrian bridge I’ve shown in other posts, past Main Streets Café, under Main Street, behind several businesses, a theater, an unused bank building (which has a perfect spot for a bench if anyone thought about it), behind private homes, under Heywood Street, and behind the fire station. I know because I went looking.

After the fire and police complex, it went under Walden Street and came out from a culvert near the community gardens, but where it went next, I couldn’t discover. I thought I might find it entering the elementary school grounds, but although I walked up and down there, I couldn’t discern so much as a burble. For me, the stream had vanished behind the homes on Magnolia. It will doubtless show itself when our drought is over and flood season causes it to burst out in a pent-up rage.

I fully intend to investigate the routes of other local streams. You probably need to be retired or a person who likes to walk — or both — to spend time on this activity, but I recommend it. It’s interesting.

Meanwhile, check out what Maria Popova has to say at the Marginalian about Open House for Butterflies and being quiet near a little stream.

Photo: Suzanne and John’s Mom
Bench near a little stream.

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