The Sawmill Creek behind our apartment complex flows into the pond on the college campus across the road. From there, it empties into the Wallkill River, the only north-flowing river in the U.S. The Wallkill meets Rondout Creek near Rosendale, and their joined waters enter the Hudson River at Kingston.


This spring, the creek overflowed a few times, coming perilously close to the footings of the apartments. Then, under the heat of summer, it petered out and became full of grass.


One early morning, the rumbling of machinery surprised us. We stepped out on our balcony to watch what was the beginning of a major landscaping project. The guy running the excavator was amazing. He dug out the creek bed. If he encountered rocks, he picked them up and dropped them into line on the far side of the trench. He used the shovel’s curved back to nudge the boulders into place, looking like a giraffe mother helping its newborn.


Another guy drove the bulldozer, picking up the dirt and smoothing it out on the side closest to the apartment buildings.

All this landscaping activity has been great entertainment for the past week. In between pauses caused by rainstorms, the workers have completed the trench where the creek will run, laid thick black plastic along it, and dumped rocks on top of the plastic.

Eventually, the drainage pipes from the apartment gutters will be buried, the plastic will be covered over, and our lovely Sawmill Creek will again flow freely to the Hudson.