It still looks nice and clean at this point. When I went to take this picture I gave Mr. and Mrs. Mallard quite a fright, and they frantically tried to lead me away from their nest. And, just as my own children did, there must have been someone catching tadpoles down there recently, judging by the orange Little League cap caught in the gravel. When I have walked past this area, I have often seen muskrats, ducks, frogs, Canada Geese, and even herons. It does have many of the hallmarks of a "wetland". I remember when I was a girl, this part of the neighborhood was still open fields, and this particular spot was always a little swamp. Later, the city ditched and drained it to put in the road. They left a little flood plain along the ditch, which is good, because it definitely still gets full to the brim when we have a big rain.Without this ditch my basement would be wet about 2/3 of the year. That's because this is the very spot on the county watershed map that is designated as the headwaters of the Embarass River. From here the water goes down to a man-made retention pond, and then, ultimately wanders in the form of the Embarass over toward the Wabash, then the Ohio, then the Mississippi, then the Gulf of Mexico. And along the way, it gathers a lot of fertilizer and pesticides running off lawns and fields
The Embarass isn't the only river affected by all of us in Champaign-Urbana. At this very point in the county are located the headwaters of both the Kaskaskia watershed and the Vermillion watershed, as well as the Embarass. It sure doesn't look like it, but we are actually high ground here, thanks to the glacier, and all the water runs away downhill from us. All the oil that drips out of our cars, all the trash that blows into the the creeks and ditches, all the lawn care chemicals that are used here in this town, are headed off to the Gulf.
So, you see, I and my immediate neighbors get first crack at polluting the Embarass. And today, I just decided I'm not going to have any part of it. I'll do my best to keep ahead of the dandelions, but if you drive past and see a few little golden twinkles in my lawn, please don't write me off as a slacker. I'm not trying to bring the neighborhood down. Hopefully, our children and grandchildren will benefit from my tolerance of those weeds. Bring them over, and I'll let them pick a bouquet for you!