Sugar Creek is running at 1.9 feet, a good depth for canoeing, on this mid-December morning. Yet I suspect only a few hardy creek lovers will be paddling today. Certainly, this correspondent is planning to keep his feet dry. I’ll opt for being an armchair canoeist and reminisce about our Friends of Sugar Creek year.
My fellow board members concur that the Kids, Canoes, and Crinoids event back in July was the hands down favorite. It was a new venture for us, but thanks especially to Doug Calisch, our expedition’s captain, our natural history educators, Mike Mycroft, Angie Williams, and Karen Thada, and our twenty stalwart young participants, it was a great event. Crinoids and brachiopods were collected, herons and eagles sighted, deer tracks spotted, and invertebrates such as stonefly and Dobson fly larvae were sifted from the water. Later, board members and Yount’s Mill owners, Alan and Brookie White, gave the kids a tour of their historic property. A most excellent summer’s day it was!
A close second would be our FSC Canoe Race last May. Fifty-two paddlers in thirty vessels took part, including a number of United States Canoe Association competitors. The race started at Creekside and ended at Deer’s Mill, about sixteen river miles. So Bill Kanost of the USCA, who logged in the fastest time at just over two and a quarter hours, was really boogieing. Our executive director, Cindy Woodall, took special pleasure in this second year of the race’s revival, remembering her childhood excitement when hundreds of paddlers raced and many hundreds more cheered as the canoeists and kayakers swept past. Maybe next year, Cindy?
Our Fall cleanup brought out our green recruits in amazing numbers. Since our previous cleanup date had been rained out two weeks before, we fretted that we wouldn’t be able to cover all of the stretches of the Creek we’d planned on. We shouldn’t have given it a second thought: Thirty-three volunteers in addition to eight board members canoed, kayaked, waded, and scoured the shores of Sugar Creek, from Darlington down to ye Olde Coke Plant, picking up trash and hauling it downstream. Meanwhile Ed Fain wrangled canoes, using our newly purchased fleet and our new (used) canoe trailer. Your correspondent scribbled furiously to keep up with all the action!
We had a good spring cleanup as well, with twenty volunteers, a well-attended annual meeting in April, our booth at the Farmer’s Market one Saturday a month, and a public lecture in November on “Natural Areas Restoration and Revitalization in West Central Indiana” presented by NICHES stewardship manager, Bob Easter.
With the New Year fast approaching, the Friends of Sugar Creek also remembers, and honors, a dear friend of the Creek, Roger Beach, who passed away last spring. He was a champion canoeist and lover of our stream, one of the founders of our organization and a board member for many years. Dean Ford, another founder of FSC, wrote of Roger’s generosity, kindness, and dedication. He concluded, “Roger knew Sugar Creek better than anyone and was a virtual river of information. Nobody could maneuver a canoe solo like Roger. We all depended on him.”
We have plans for more cleanups, come spring another race, come summer, another outing for “Kids, Canoes, and Crinoids.” And for next summer also, a sunny day and an optimal water level for our Family Friendly Float Trip. Stay tuned to our Facebook Page and Currents for word of our upcoming events.
The Friends of Sugar Creek wishes you and yours a joyous holiday and a happy New Year.
Marc Hudson is the Editor of Currents.