Summertime isn’t truly over until it’s over

Summertime isn’t truly over until it’s over
John C. Lorson

Head out at high noon to a small stream nearby. Low flow and clear conditions make this a great time of year to spot aquatic life. Take a bucket and net along too — if you’re 16 or over, you’ll need an Ohio fishing license as well, even if you’re just catching them to look at and release — and you’ll be amazed at the number of different species of small fish you can find. The Ohio Division of Wildlife offers a great little field guide called “Stream Fishes of Ohio” that’s free for the asking. Visit for more information.


There’s a 10-foot diameter swimming pool right outside my back door. It’s the really cheap kind made of flexible plastic with an inflatable ring around the top that keeps the rim above the water and, consequently, the water in the pool.

An electric pump the size of a small coffee can sucks water through what looks like a glorified coffee filter that I pull out and rinse off every couple of days. When I’m done cleaning, I drop a chlorine tablet in the bottom of the apparatus, and everything keeps bubbling along swimmingly. It’s the smallest pool in the neighborhood, filling at just shy of 1,000 gallons, and causes little more than a speedbump on the graph of my monthly water usage, but it gets the job done.

Because I keep it covered constantly, the pool is somewhat slow to warm in late spring, but it also holds its heat well past Labor Day when nearly every other pool in the area is draw down, packed up or similarly retired for the season. I’ve spent time in my “little puddle” nearly every day this summer and will continue until summer is officially over.

I learned young not to give up on summer until the true celestial turn of the seasons at the autumnal equinox. September has always been one of the warmest, sunniest and most beautiful months on the calendar, a fact my long-suffering school teachers tried in vain to hide when I was a kid. I vividly remember how at the start of September my mom would dutifully stuff me into itchy corduroy pants and a button-up shirt to send me down the sidewalk with the rest of the lunchbox crowd. She knew in her heart of hearts, however, that there was only so much a teacher could do with a kid whose mind never fully arrived in the classroom.

Each new teacher would play a frustrated game of musical chairs in an effort to place me where I couldn’t see out the window. It rarely worked. Even facing a windowless wall, the power of imagination took me right through the bricks and mortar to the playground outside. Most often my daydreams led to the tall grass at the far end of the school lot where praying mantises did war on finger-sized grasshoppers and big, black crickets composed the soundtrack from their bunkers in the thatch. Butterflies flew unguarded reconnaissance missions over the meadow while blue jays and grackles patrolled as close ground support.

My heels may have been stuffed in shiny shoes set to scuff the linoleum at every turn, but my head was nowhere near the place. In later years I found a way to scratch the late summer itch by heading out to the dove field or squirrel woods in between college classes. September has always made a mess of me, and it continues to this day. That’s why the water will remain in that little pool of mine until the crisp chill of an October morning finally convinces me jumping in might just hiccup my heart. Until that moment I’m apt to self-baptize twice a day, morning and evening, in the name of the season that was.

For those of you who by either maddening fate or abundant good sense don’t have an opportunity to splash down just outside your own back door, I recommend wading in a stone-bottomed stream.

In our area September is statistically the month with the slimmest rainfall, and small streams and creeks are at their annual low. Water runs crystal clear at this time of year, and the fish school in the deep pools and can be easily spotted.

Go out at high noon and you’ll easily be able to see through 2 or 3 feet of water to find all sorts of darting, dashing life. Take a bucket and net if you are so inclined. You’re apt to be thoroughly amazed at the number of different species to be found even in a short stretch of a high-quality small stream. Oh, and don’t be afraid to get your feet wet.

Remember, if you have comments on this column or questions about the natural world, write The Rail Trail Naturalist, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email You also can follow along on Instagram @railtrailnaturalist.

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