By: Raymond Greiner
Walking the aisles of the local farm and feed store I read the various labels on the multiple feed bags; sweet stuff for horses, scratch grain for chickens, meat bird, layer crumbles, chick starter and at the very end of the aisle a vividly white bag off by itself on a small pallet labeled pond food. It’s really fish food, but the label struck a chord with me.
Farm ponds are sanctuaries of life. Often small, providing water for livestock, and a method of water storage for seasonal dry spells. Water can be pumped into tanks or used for watering gardens. Rural land designed for self-sufficiency centers on its water source.
I live in rural Indiana and my pond has become more to me than a farm function; it serves those purposes well, but also creates a source of introspection, a window, comfort zone and observatory of life. If you desire a special view of nature sit on the bank of a farm pond for a while, and patiently allow your eyes to wander the water’s surface revealing peaceful, subtle activity. Small swirls appear; this may be a bluegill or turtle surfacing. The, wind driven, aerator forms a circle of bubbles, and the ducks move about dabbling for various morsels, the water snake moves across the pond’s surface with grace and speed, exits the opposite bank moving quickly seeking shelter in the tall grass. Frogs are abundant patiently awaiting their prey. As spring wanes cattails are forming with tails reaching for the sky. Dragonflies flit about, mesmerizing me as they fly in pairs, turning in unison with absolute precision. How can they do that?
One late winter, the pond thawed. Approaching the pond, I observed a small wake moving across the surface; upon exit from the water I could clearly see it was a mink, the first I had seen here, such a beautiful creature. It glanced my way, and then disappeared into the woods.
One summer day a caterpillar ventured onto a stick that was partially in the water. As the caterpillar inched onto the stick it floated away from the bank, becoming marooned. The caterpillar then walked toward the end of the stick and it began to tip into the water from its weight, it then walked to the other end of the stick and tipping repeated. Finally the caterpillar moves to the center of the stick, achieving balance remaining in place. Eventually the stick floats back to the pond’s bank and the furry critter re-gained access to its land comfort. It seems a lesson applying to human complexities. If one direction fails, try another, if that one fails also, go to center and wait.
This micro ecosystem has been an important part of my daily life, offering visual and spiritual pleasures. I have an old steel chair that sits under the oak tree next to the pond, weather beaten, sits out all winter. This chair predates the fancy canvas fold up chairs or the aluminum webbed seat ones, it has become an attachment to my daily life, (also represents a low priority project that has been haunting me to sand and paint this relic). As I rest there in the early PM with my dog companions, Orion and Venus, I feel blessed to have this connection with mind/earth, a rarity in today’s high-speed culture. Pondering that pond food bag, I feel a temptation to buy a bag, toss in the crumbles, stirring things up a bit. However, at this time, I am not feeding the pond, the pond is feeding me.