Staring at the pond


My pond is a fascinating place and staring at it is a full time job. It lies in the shade of the trees. In places direct sunlight hits it, and, penetrating below the surface, it scatters within the depths off the small particles of mud suspended in the water creating milky areas of impenetrability. Other areas of the pond lie in varying densities of shadow: the deeper the shadow, the more faithful the reflection of the world above: trees, sky, and clouds. The wind moves the trees and with it, the effects on the water shift.

Now, add to that complexity other layers of complexity: that there are here and there objects -- usually dry leaves or flower petals -- scattered and floating on the surface of the pond. In other places objects sunken under the surface can be seen: branches dropped in the water by the wind, or fish sunbathing lazily right under the surface. As if that was not enough, the surface of the pond is sometimes disturbed: perhaps a fish has stirred near the surface; or a kingfisher skimmed the surface in an attempt to catch a small fry; or something fell into the water from the trees above. All these events cause different sorts of waves, resulting in different patterns on the water; and sometimes two happen at once, creating a kaleidoscopic interference.

An American naturalist who sometime in the 1820's retired to live in a shack by a pond, wrote how sitting by the pond and staring pointlessly brought up to his lips, unawares, a silly smile. I emulate that great literary model a great deal these days.


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