Monday, August 12, 2013

ANCHORED AT CRANBERRY POND, by Anne Kiely





Sometimes we meet people who are so totally connected to an environment that they give new meaning to having "a sense of place". Anne Kiely is one of those people. We present an essay that uniquely communicates the connection that comes with a lifelong association with a place. In this case, it happens to be a setting of beauty and sustenance for which Anne has great love.

Anchored at Cranberry Pond


It’s really not much of a body of water. Bigger than a farm pond but just a small pond, after all. Rather shallow, only about ten to fourteen feet deep in the middle part, the perimeter is only three or four feet deep. Quaking bogs float on two sides- home to cranberries and other bog flora.  The bog stains the water a deep murky brown and the bottom of the pond is silty.  Cranberry Pond is the highest body of water in Grafton and headwaters of the Quakenkill Creek. You know that creek-- that’s the one that wanders along Route 2 westward to Troy, born right here at Cranberry Pond.  John Steward had a sawmill on the pond in the early days of Grafton’s history.   I wonder if he built the dam at the end of the pond. That mystery has eluded my solving. 
        
The pond has no stream inlet; it is completely spring fed and icy cold most of the time.   From shore to shore it about 1000 feet- not big.  An island rises off the far shore.  Stately, noble hemlocks cover it as it rises steeply from the water, encircled by blueberry bushes taking advantage of the water for its thirsty roots. Another two smaller islands are encompassed by the bog. White birches, blueberry bushes and some fir trees cover both of them.

There is no natural beach on this pond, just a tree lined rocky shoreline except for the man-made beach my father put in more than fifty years ago. Swimming became much better after that. I was always undeterred by the bloodsuckers that inhabited the pond. They were just a part of the habitat. Most of our campers shared this view but some were repulsed by them.

Another thing that is unique about Cranberry Pond is that we are the only ones on the pond. We rent a few summer cottages, but that’s it. Although we do not own all the land around the pond, no one else has built anything on their land. It is as if this is our private pond.
           
So why does such a mediocre body of water hold such a place of importance in my life?

As I look out at the pond day after day there is never a bad view. In the morning, the sun rises across the bog to my left. In the fall, the skies are spectacular- backlit by the sun as it moves further south, a riot of pinks and purples and mauves that even the camera cannot adequately capture.  As the temperatures cool, a mist floats over the bog, making it eerie and wistful looking.  Next comes the still time.  The pond becomes like a mirror reflecting the trees and skies perfectly. It lasts only a short while and then a gentle breeze ruffles the water. The sun shining on it turns the little waves to diamonds sparkling daintily.

Later, as the sun rises in the sky white fluffy clouds floating are reflected.  In late afternoon, the sun sets behind me, buried in the trees.  I cannot see the sunset but as I look across the pond the sun shines on the far shore, gold highlighting the tree tops, sometimes very swiftly completing its daily journey.

About 7 PM each day there is a second round of stillness and mirror images- so tranquil.  On moonlit nights the moonlight reflects off the small waves creating another field of sparkling diamonds.  

In the morning, the sun rises across the bog to my left. In the fall, the skies are spectacular- backlit by the sun as it moves further south, a riot of pinks and purples and mauves that even the camera cannot adequately capture.  As the temperatures cool, a mist floats over the bog, making it eerie and wistful looking.  Next comes the still time.  The pond becomes like a mirror reflecting the trees and skies perfectly. It lasts only a short while and then a gentle breeze ruffles the water. The sun shining on it turns the little waves to diamonds sparkling daintily.

Later, as the sun rises in the sky white fluffy clouds floating are reflected.  In late afternoon, the sun sets behind me, buried in the trees.  I cannot see the sunset but as I look across the pond the sun shines on the far shore, gold highlighting the tree tops, sometimes very swiftly completing its daily journey.
           
About 7 PM each day there is a second round of stillness and mirror images- so tranquil.  On moonlit nights the moonlight reflects off the small waves creating another field of sparkling diamonds.        

 The pond seems unchanged but subtle changes have occurred over the 67 years I have been viewing it.  The beaver have taken down the birches and the maples on the island; there are fewer blueberry bushes as the forest has crowded them out. There are no longer blood suckers but now we have water snakes-a  big UGH! And the bog slowly creeps forward into the pond.

I guess it must be my imagination but the water definitely seems much colder now than when I was a child swimming endlessly day after day. Does someone throw ice cubes in the pond at night? Now, wading to ankle depth cools me sufficiently.

I, too, have changed, having grown from child into adult, became a parent and grandparent. This is the place I learned to swim, learned to fish, learned to sail, learned to row a boat, and learned about life. People who came every two weeks for their summer vacation, kids like me or, sometimes, maybe not.  They taught me a lot about relationships.

This is where I spent my childhood summers, where my children spent their childhood summers, where my grandchildren now spend their childhood summers. Five generations of my family have been at Cranberry Pond.

There is no one experience to define my relationship with this body of water. It has been a lifelong event. Cranberry Pond is the anchor of my life.


      


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