Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Learning the Steps to Our Pond's Stately 'Dance'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Learning the Steps to Our Pond's Stately 'Dance'

Article excerpt

Fronds of water milfoil dance with hand-sized bass, who glide out into the open, then startle and hurry back to the plant's waiting arms.

"What's all that gross stuff in your pond?" a visitor asked that first spring we lived on the parcel south of town. Guilt stirred. I didn't want to be accused of lackadaisical stewardship. When we bought the place, the pond was so clear of weeds it looked like a swimming pool. Now to the unschooled eye it raised specters of swamp monsters.

Pond scum (filamentous algae) is a primitive plant without leaves, stems, or roots. It floated on the surface, a gelatinous-looking mat. My husband and I tried to rake it off, but the pond was a kidney-shaped half-acre, so the task was formidable and one we quickly abandoned for some serious deck sitting. The algae disappeared with the cold, but spring weather caused a re-growth that once again ebbed with summer, and we learned something about the seasons of algae on our pond. In its place came a hearty stand of Sparganium eurycarpum (bur weed) ringing the shallows. Below water level, the plants looked attractive, their long grasslike leaves floating erect. But once they broke the surface, they drooped and looked spent. We decided to resort to "mechanical controls," which means weed pulling. My husband and I pulled on knee-high rubber boots and waded in. The work was satisfying, so we got more ambitious and boarded an inflatable chair to get to deeper water. A sudden vision of us - two middle-aged people in shorts and knee boots balancing in rather compromised positions on an inflatable chair - got us tickled, and the raft tipped. I knew a few moments of alarm as I sank into the deep, my boots filling with water. My husband grabbed me and pulled me into the shallows. So much for mechanical controls. Weeds can be eradicated by chemical means if the pond doesn't have an outlet. But the water tumbled out of our pond at a surprising rate, journeyed into a creek, then a river, and into the drinking water of several communities. Not only would chemicals be dispersed too quickly to do anything to the bur weed, they would also find their way into a much broader environment, an unacceptable proposition, even if the EPA deemed the chemicals "safe. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.