Days Around the Pond

June 19th, 2010

Morning around the landscape- the sun rises slowly, painting the trees with color and bringing the world alive.   I like wandering around, checking up on things, enjoying that fresh cup of coffee…

… and then almost spilling it as I turn the corner to find a little beastie looking for his own breakfast!  This black rat snake was only a few feet long- they get a lot bigger (6+ feet), and really they do a lot of good with rodents and such.  But I wouldn’t mind if they did it a little further away!  Hmmm… no eggs yet for the chickens, but this guy will be around and I’ll have to watch them.  Ron had a cool post about catching a big one eating his chickens’ eggs, and Sage managed to interrupt lunch.     This one quietly slithered away…

I see the pond in the afternoons and think of fishing more.  For some reason it looks nice undisturbed.  There is life there… in fact it’s teeming with critters.  Bass, bluegill, catfish, grass carp, koi… bull frogs, snakes (water snakes!), and various turtles.  Glad this isn’t further south or I’d wonder about ‘gators.   The heron comes every now and then, looking for his breakfast too.  The occasional geese and ducks.  Swallows and martins swooping low over the water… bats flying around in the evening.  And sometimes a kingfisher makes an appearance, chattering as he swoops over the water near the trees.  They don’t stay long- this isn’t a river, and the fish are probably too big. 

The way the wind and sunlight dance across the water is something I never tire of seeing.  It’s not even two acres in size, but the water speaks of rivers and oceans…  

Across the pond I check up on the “orchard” of apple and pear trees.  They’re only a few years old, growing slowly, but perhaps one day will be gnarled and heavy with fruit. 

We had an apple or two last year… they grew small and the squirrels ate them.  This year just growth, which is fine with me.  There’s time yet, although I doubt I’ll be here to see the mature trees.    That’s okay… something about the hope that they will live on and provide healthful food and maybe a restful site for someone is enough.

One of my favorite wild plants is Elderberry.  I’ve planted a couple of dozen around the property over the years.   The boy and I made the rounds one afternoon and found this elderberry in full bloom.  This flower head was huge!  I enjoy the plant both for the unique flavor and the healthful jam, jelly and syrup it can provide.  Research has shown the juice from the blue-black berries have anti-viral properties and can be used to shorten colds and ward off flu.  I don’t know about all that, but it sounds good and I keep it around.  If I feel like I’m getting sick I pull out the elderberry jelly and syrup and a few days regimen seems to help.   It sure tastes good… and it’s fun to make a batch in late summer.

I had really planned to cut a few flower heads and try to start some elderflower wine or some other creative undertaking.    Alas the days drifted too quickly into one another and there are only berries forming now. 

In late afternoon the sunlight shines on the far side of the pond.   It’s the south side, although the land slopes down to the north.  The shoreline is covered in taller grass that I have not cut this year.  Now there are blackberry vines and woody trees starting to grow… which means I need to get busy!  I let the pond vegetation grow because it dissuades canada geese from hanging around.  The geese prefer ponds and grass like golf courses and parks.  This is a more natural place, and the life around the pond is indeed wild.   So I cut only a couple of times a year and it keeps things in shape.

The trees are everything to the landscape, and really make a difference in contrasts between sun and shade.  A few more have died in recent years, and the view is becoming more open.  But the trees remaining are growing taller and wider, so maybe the balance is the same.

And the wild blackberries are almost ready!  They look wonderful but are fairly small. There’s a blueberry/blackberry farm not too far away and they have these enormous juicy berries for picking.   I’ll still try the wild ones… something about enjoying that part of our natural world I guess, or maybe I like that they don’t cost anything… except for a few scratches here and there :)  Do you pick berries?

And then the night. I was out a few days ago and the fireflies were everywhere… it was nearly dark, and the little little twinkling lights were dancing across the landscape on the slopes to the pond- it really was beautiful.   I went out with a camera to get a picture.   I could barely see, but when I set the camera shutter to stay open longer and catch the fireflies, the picture ended up looking like daytime with strange tint…  

 Fireflies, lightning bugs… how many can you see?  There’s a cat on the prowl too…

The garden is coming along too… and the chickens new home.  Yes, I’m still working on finishing that coop!   Enjoy the day…

7 Responses to “Days Around the Pond”

  1. Lovely story.

    You know you can improve the fruiting of the trees with a little pruning in winter. This will also be for the good to the older tree as allowing to much untrammelled growth causes the distance between spurs to elongate thereby leaving you with the produce of one tree where you could have fit in four.

  2. Ed

    I think my ancient ancestors must be channeling through me because I’ve always felt like I should live beside water. I’ve spent most of my life growing up “where the river bends” and in the land of “ten thousand lakes” but I’ve never been within sight of water. I hope to remedy that someday soon.

  3. Jamie

    What a beautiful haven! An excellent place to meditate before the morning light, and in the solitude of the night.

  4. It’s a good thing I don’t know where you live, otherwise you’d wake up and find me in the middle of your pond in my kayak and an ultralight rig trying to coax a few bass into my frying pan.

    Off topic: If you haven’t read it, let me suggest Clash Of The Carriers which I just finished. It’s about the “Marianas Turkey Shoot.” Very, very good.


  5. a little piece of heaven, to be sure.

  6. Vincent- Thanks- I need to learn a good bit more about fruit trees! The deer have done too much pruning of several smaller trees, but I haven’t really looked into efficiently shaping them yet.
    Ed- I love that river picture at your sight. But if you feel like that about water, you should definitely try it. Makes all the difference for me… sometimes I can’t believe I’m in Missouri and not living on the coast somewhere!
    Jamie- You’re a poet… I don’t meditate much, at least formally. Unless you count staring at the water until the dog nuzzles me, or looking off through the trees while listening to so many different sounds of birds and insects… But I sho do a mess ‘o thinkin’ around these parts!
    Randall- Hey, come on over sometime. I would recommend a spring or fall day, or an early summer morning… no coaxing involved- they practically jump in the boat. Thanks for the book rec.- I’m going to get it!
    Chook- If I was Ed I’d just say, “No, it’s Iowa…” It is a special place :)

  7. Hey, that snake was out on my stone steps the other day sunning himself! ;D

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