After living on a ginormous lake for sixteen years, we downsized to a two acre pond nine years ago. Water people must be near water. It’a a natural law... or something. No doubt pond life is somewhat different from lake life. It’s more intimate, for one thing. The drama is more in your face.
But the drama is also inspirational to a writer so I’ve written about the cycles of birth and death unfolding season to season as though presented in a naturalist’s theater, and the ever changing but staying the same dynamics of the wild life that calls the pond home.
The Canadian geese are dominate characters. Some years the mother and father goose, who claim the island long before winter is done frosting up the edges, for their annual batch of eggs to incubate, beat the odds and win the struggle to procreate; their babes survive. Some years something intervenes, usually a hawk, but sometimes an unknown, mysterious-ness lurking underneath the water’s surface or sneaking up on four legs, picks the newbies off.
Then there was the year the eggs simply did not hatch. The mother goose stayed on the nest, confused, for several weeks past gestation time, until her mate and the rest of the gaggle convinced her to abandon them. One might think a goose would not be able to express grief but she came back over and over again all summer to check, maybe, just maybe. Her body language was undeniable. Clearly grief is an emotion not exclusive to humans.
The mother Killdeer lays her eggs on the eastern slope. Every. Year. And every year I seek out her nest and mark it with a stake so the mower knows where to avoid. She squawks at me and does her running broken wing flop impression, “Look! Look at me I’m injured, pay no attention to the eggs! You can get me!”
Some years the eggs get overlooked and the new Killdeers hatch running and chirping to the water’s edge. Other years, like this one, the stake keeps death by mower blades at bay but something else, likely the hawk waiting patiently for the goslings to hatch, has an appetizer of four speckled eggs. One day they were there, next day not a trace.
Nature seems so cruel, by our human sensibilities, however while I find justification for putting out a stake to keep the nest from being mindlessly destroyed, I’d never interfere with nature’s grand design regardless how ruthless it seems to the fine-tuned evolved compassionate mind because I'm pretty sure the Sovereign Creator doesn’t need my help in regards to natural law. The hawk has to eat too though I admit the idea annoys me. Still...
And thus I’m merely a spectator soaking up the inspiration in daily awe of God’s amazing creation.
In 2008 my granddaughter had a poetry assignment for her Language Arts class. I told her that prose is one thing and can come out of nowhere but poetry is birthed from deep observation and suggested she write about the pond. And so she did.
The Face of the Pond
©2008 Olivia Hoey
In man-made world there is a native place,
All raw and full of seen and unseen life,
Both fowl and fern reside in an ageless grace,
They live and die by wit or strength or strife.
There is a rhythm and a natural song,
The harmony builds the voice of the pond.
The waters feed and protect all year long,
Splash, leap, all creatures live in common bond.
Frogs croak from under lily pads, wind blows,
Waters trickle, ripple, lap, rise and fall.
Storm rain stirs and the tranquil surface flows,
Fragile world in fear of the threat to all.
But when the fury and the flash is done,
They carry on with what they have begun.
How inspiring is that?