Monday, October 27, 2008

Skeletons in the Closet

The things we keep buried.
Out of sight, out of mind--until, at a low point, they peek out at us.
And remind us of the past.

October pond


I recall speaking those words to my family, again and again, as we walked the property of what would become our "new" southern Ohio home.

Not new, in most respects.
Except, perhaps, the heavy coat of blue paint that literally held the place together. Applied in loving desperation by the older couple no longer able to care for it, in hopes of catching the eye of a new owner--a new caretaker for the 1835 brick farmhouse on 15 rural acres of woods, field and pond.

May pond

The lure of an evolving adventure, the continuation of an already rich history, upon land rolling wild and free...the package had us spellbound.
We moved in, in the summer of ‘92.

While repairs to the old house began, so did our attention to the pond—a leaky, shallow Y-shaped basin formed at the convergence of 2 seasonal creeks crossing the back of the property.
With mud deep enough to bury all sorts of sins.

By the summer of our second year, the August heat warmed the shallow water so greatly, we looked out one day, to find all the fish we’d dreamed of catching on a lazy afternoon—floating, dead at the surface.
The attractive picture we’d remembered from our walk there that first spring, had become the stench that hung on a warm summer breeze.

The fix?
Sculpt a new dam beyond the old, able to contain a greater depth.
A sanctuary from the warming waters of the shallows.
A place where, even in dry months, the water would be cool and able to sustain the lives within.
With a notch carved between the two—their passage to the deep.

old dam with passage to deep water

The rains of spring fill her to the brim.
We look out over long reaching arms, stretching back the edge of the oaks, dotted with wood ducks and the noses of snappers. Fish rise and pluck damselflies from the surface. And a heron steps slowly near the grassy rim and flies up and off.

March pond

Only when the summer wanes and the rains elude us, do we catch a glimpse of the pond of years ago.

Old land is good at keeping secrets.

October pond revealing old dam

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Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Very interesting. The May pond looks especially lovely. said...

What beautiful prose and photographs!


kjpweb said...

That is a great and interesting post! How seasons can change the looks, huh?
Cheers, Klaus

Unknown said...

That looks like a slice of paradise ... especially for a hydrologist. It reminds me of building more ephemeral dams and canals at the beach during low tide.

dguzman said...

Wow, I love it when you show us the same spot at different times.

Michele Wassell said...

Changing seasons is great and brings a lot of interest or at least can.. :) Interesting post and photos..:)

RuthieJ said...

Thank you for all the efforts and caring that have gone into making your place such a beautiful wildlife habitat. I would love to have a big pond like that in my backyard.

Marvin said...

Interesting seeing the seasonal sequence of your pond.