This was our ultimate destination when we first started coming to Roundrock. Our own body of water! When we first had a road built to get into our woods, it ended pretty much just inside the property line. If we wanted to go anywhere after that, it had to be afoot.
Our first task, then, was the carve a footpath to the pond, which I’ve mentioned once or twice before in this crazy blog of mine. And then during subsequent visits we always hiked to the pond, sat in chairs under the spreading white oak tree, and waited for the wildlife to arrive and put on a show for us.
Mostly the wildlife didn’t, though we did schedule our visits during the middle of the day when much of the wildlife was hiding away. The blackbirds were generally there though. They would fly in and out of the cattails growing in the water by the dam, giving their characteristic calls and looking resplendent with their red-banded wings. We had frogs, of course. Once we saw a raccoon family here. And one time, as we were sitting in the chairs, a pair of ducks came whistling through the air to land on our pond. Unfortunately, we were sitting in an exposed area, and when the ducks saw us, they turned tail and flew away. Had we been farther in the shadows beneath the oak, they might not have seen us and actually “landed” on the water.
As you can see from the photo, the pond gets completely overgrown with duckweed or watermeal (I’m not sure which). This, in turn, starves the underwater plants of sunlight, at least in theory. The few times I have “walked” in the pond (that is, sunk to my thighs in the loathsome, stinking goo that lines the bottom), I’ve pushed through something long and stringy growing from the goo.
One day, Libby and I spent a little time casting a line with a small jig at the end into the pond. We each pulled forth a small sunfish about the size of a silver dollar. Such stunted fish could mean that the pond is too full of fish for any one to grow to substantial size. Or it could mean that there aren’t enuf nutrients. Or it could mean that we happened to catch the only fish that were dumb enuf to fall for a lure.
Poor Max, a suburban house dog through and through, had never seen a green-covered pond before, and one day he bolted onto it thinking it was an especially level and open bit of grassland. He showed us he could swim that day.
I took this photo in September (I think) when the duckweed was still in full-force mode. By now it is fading, and by the middle of winter, all trace of it will be gone. The water will be clear, and we’ll be able to see all the way to the leaf-covered bottom along the shoreline. The cattails will have gone brown and sere, and the blackbirds will seem to have abandoned it. But they haven’t. In the spring, this is among the first areas to show the return of life. Even the duckweed will find a way back from wherever it was hiding, and by mid-June, the surface will be a uniform green again.
(Pablo and Libby are enjoying their first full day in Oregon as you read this. But, sigh, this would have been the day in years past when we would have brought the whole family to Roundrock for a campfire, hiking, and the taking of the family photograph to go with our holiday greetings. No more of that, alas.)