Small streams and creeks, part of a vast tributary system, play a big part in an estuary's health

By Lynn R. Parks  |  Photograph by Kevin Fleming
From the September 2014 issue

waterwaystributaries Our Content - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #126Miles from Delaware’s coast, in the heart of Sussex County, water from the Morris Millpond joins with the Stockley Branch to form Cow Bridge Branch. That stream flows southeast about 2 miles before it runs into Millsboro Pond, which ultimately spills into the Indian River, the largest tributary of Delaware’s inland bays system.

Cow Bridge Branch, and the meadows, wetlands and forests through which it flows, form “one of the last relatively [unaffected] watersheds of the inland bays,” says Bart Wilson, science coordinator with the Center for the Inland Bays. On the grounds of the state-owned Stockley Center (which serves people with developmental disabilities), the creek meanders through an old-growth floodplain that a 2008 article in Outdoor Delaware described as an “intact, high-quality, functioning ecosystem, something that is very hard to find these days.”

Cow Bridge Branch is just one of dozens of tributaries that feed the inland bays. The network of branches, streams, creeks, ditches, canals, prongs and guts supplies nearly half of the freshwater that mixes with saltwater from the ocean to form the bays. (The remaining freshwater is groundwater that has seeped into the earth and over a period of decades gradually makes its way into the bays.)

Locally made beers, wine and spirits have become another draw for coastal tourists

By Pam George  |  Photograph by Carolyn Watson
From the September 2014 issue

libationvacationnassauvineyards Our Content - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #126Kelly Grovola and her family come to the beach from Hockessin for sun, fun — and suds. They always stop at the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton or the Dogfish brewpub in Rehoboth Beach. When Dogfish Head holds events such the annual Analog-a-Go-Go (a salute to vinyl records), Grovola heads south just for that. Sitting on the sand becomes secondary.

She’s not alone. “Our trips to the beach are often scheduled and planned around events happening at the breweries, such as a special beer release or ticketed events,” says Lindsey Timberman of Wilmington, who with Eric Roberts writes a blog on When it comes to eye-opening ales by the sea, the duo have a lot to type about.

A major storm approaches, and evacuation orders are issued. Still, some folks choose to hunker down. Their reasons for doing so are varied — and confounding to emergency personnel.

By Jack Rodgers
From the September 2014 issue

stayorgo Our Content - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #126There is no hiding from the wind of a storm that lashes in from the sea.

But that’s just what we were trying to do on a long ago late-summer afternoon in Rehoboth. The wind did not come politely to our front door and tap gently. No, it sounded like the proverbial train as it powered across a churning sea and slammed into that door, as if intent upon blowing it off. The wind shrieked in the eaves, tore limbs from the sycamore across the street and flung pine needles from trees that leaned like the masts of a schooner rounding the Horn.

We could also sense that the gentle rollers we had ridden with our blue-and-yellow canvas rafts the day before had been replaced with freight-car-size giants now pounding the shore. They landed with a BOOM you could feel through the windows of the cottage. We marveled at first, but in a few moments felt uneasy as cream-colored foam was driven down our street and the snug house no longer felt as secure. The adults quietly filled water containers, and the glances they exchanged told us they were second-guessing the decision to stay.

Viewed from a safe perch far from the storm, those who ignore warnings and evacuation notices may seem quirky at best and downright foolhardy at worst. As we watch footage of cascading stormwater pouring down streets or rescues taking place on some rooftop, the questions always form: Why would anyone stay for that? Who are these people that hunker down while others flee inland?

Turns out, those are tough questions for even the experts to answer.