Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Immaculate Deception of Pond Life

Demure is an illusion in the world of small water bodies, deceiving the unsuspecting novice's imagination with delusions of tranquility.  The visitor's mind floats to peaceful places standing at the edge of a quiet water pond.  The keeper's peaceful places evaporated long ago in the world of aggressive pond plants, water conditioners, diseases, amphibian and fish maintenance, erosion, water evaporation, water quality, sludge removal, and empty pockets.  

I'm talking man-made natural ponds with no liners.  I did observe over a period of two years, a pickerel rush plant in a 12 inch pot set in the middle of a lined 12 foot round pond cover the entire surface...amazing, but today I'm talking about what I pond.  It's been a love/hate relationship ever since day one.

This pond is dug out of clay with an uneven limestone bottom.  The mature bog area constantly sucks moisture from the pond, and I find myself topping off the water in the pond morning and evening to keep it a healthy level.  Fish are very high maintenance, so this pond is designed for frogs and birds, with a shallow entry side into the water, and three logs in the deeper parts that overlap the higher edges.  

Natural ponds, when balanced almost take care of themselves...BUT.........I'm looking at my pond and its water surface is only one fourth the size of its beginnings.  This was okay for a few years, but I'm losing much of my other plant life, amphibians, and water surface to the sweet flag and swamp rose.  These plants grow in the ground, and are a !#$&?% to remove.

I grab the newly purchased Silky Hayauchi pole saw that extends to cut the mightiest of tree limbs way up there in the stratosphere, compress it to the shortest still-too-long extension available, grit my teeth with the determination of a skinny tick running out of time, punch back all that negativity my mind is brewing up in retaliation, part leaves and pinch my shoulder blades right out of alignment sawing with the agility of arms screwed on backwards into that massive shelf of sweet flag tangled stems that has reached out over the quiet waters to obliterate anything in its path on its quest to seal the pond up tighter than salt on a slug.

My glove-less hands tell me blisters will be my reward as I repeatedly hack and jerk with a rake until those tangled masses begin to loosen their ironclad grip, and fling them one by one over my head with a splat onto the patio.  Next is drugging up that frog loving muck at the bottom from last fall's leaves, and wondering where an overflowing bucket of unkindly smells with absolutely nowhere to go is really supposed to go.  Looking out over those muddy waters, to the patio spewed with water logged plants that under normal circumstances would lack the power of locomotion, then down at the clutched bucket of swamp-stink, I'm mildly bemused by the desperation of it all.  

The miniature water lily's been given a new lease on life and basks in heavenly sunshine.  The swamp rose tightens its foothold defying me to come one step closer.  I pull out my handy dandy saw and a felco pruner, and try to figure out where the hell my feet are supposed to go so I can whittle that big bully back into submission.  Both knees refuse to cooperate, my feet trip on anything more than a quarter inch high, and my spry has been so totally fried.  I'm a disaster that's already happened.  There's nothing graceful with this autumn chick, but I'll complain no more until next time.

The top of the low rock wall has been removed, and all the resting arrow-headed flatworms lifted off the underside and dumped into a freezer bag.  Stepping stones are being laid on the bottom foundation of the wall to make pond care easier.  The sedge died out long completion for the swamp rose that now looks like six plants instead of one; and the remnants of the copper iris is pitiful.  Much work is left weekends will remain busy this month.  

I'm not exactly a lover of six legged wing machines up close and in my face after dark.  Being hit in the middle of the forehead by an unknown in that dark void once sent me rushing for the back door with arms flaying at everything I couldn't see.  This fall I'll once again be able to brave the night spider webs with my broken broom stick, sneak out to the pond edge with flashlight in hand and watch all those little monsters that live at the bottom  of the pond emerge after dark...a truly mesmerizing event that has left me with a desire to NEVER wade into any kind of pond forever.


  1. What an excellent title to your post! I have to say that I couldn't do it. Too much work! From what I can see though, the pond area is a beautiful work of art.

  2. This beautiful pond will be the source of inspiration and sweet contemplation.

  3. I am rethinking the pond idea in our yard, I just know I would obsess over everything thing about it. Yours is just gorgeous.


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