This is the pond at the end of my road in Rutland, Massachusetts.
There is no pond on the map from 1785, nor on the map from 1870 (I have a copy of that map). In those years, only a stream runs from east of the Bigelow farm toward the Ware River.
There is a pond on the United States Geological Survey topographic map based on a 1938 survey. Sometime between 1870 and 1938, someone put a small dam in the stream and backed up the water. A dam is still there, concrete and rusted metal, holding the pond in place. Now, the outline of the pond changes only very slowly.
Water constantly flows through the notch in the dam, so it is not holding the same water in the same place. New water arrives, old water leaves, the level changes little, but the water changes all the time.
The plants and animals of the pond don’t care which water molecules are present, just that there are always enough for them to make a living in and around the pond.
The plants and animals don’t care about me, either, even though I have lived down the road from the pond for forty years. I am a casual visitor. They are the residents.
The pond gives a sense of permanence. It persists predictably enough that the living things match their cycles with those of the pond.
In contrast, the weather gives us pause, a pause revealed on the surface of the pond. Will it be calm or rippled, bright or dark, liquid or solid, vibrant or shrouded? Each day, each hour, each minute can differ from the last.
Each time I approach the pond, I expect to find some things and expect to be surprised by other things.
I do not walk around the pond because there is no path, there is much shoreline vegetation and there are many property owners. Instead, I view it almost exclusively from one accessible vantage point. It is a small window into what I find to be a surprising and fascinating place. I want to explore how much that window will reveal. Let’s take a look.