The pond was closed for almost the entire summer for hundreds of children. Many of them learned how to swim at the pond and their summer memories include long sunny days playing in the sand and the water with their friends, catching crayfish, playing Marco Polo, building sand castles, swimming to the dock and back. How were they feeling this summer? What questions do they have about why their favorite pond is closed? How will you answer them?
I heard one father explain to his three year old son that the pond had a "tummy ache". Another parent told her children that they could send the pond healing thoughts as they visualized the pond getting better. They drew pictures of the pond and posted them on the refrigerator.
My grandchildren look forward to swimming in the pond every time they visit us. This summer for the first time ever, I had to explain to them why we could no longer swim even though it was a hot sunny day. I explained to them that the pond had a kind of infection caused by algae. I told them that algae lives in the pond all the time but when the water temperature gets hot and the run-off from erosion during rain storms adds too much "fertilizer" to the water, the algae blooms and produces toxic bacteria which can make people and animals sick. The water temperature is getting hotter as the planet heats up every year.
They saw the dead fish, crayfish and frogs right along the shoreline. They felt sad for them and asked me why this happened. They noticed the "yellow slime" and wanted to know how we could "mop it up". These were hard but necessary conversations to have.
Our five year old granddaughter asked me last week if the pond still has an "allergy" which is how she interpreted my explanation of an "algae bloom". I told her that the pond is getting clearer and that the fish are happier. Our ten year old grandson wants to know what caused the erosion and how we can we help the pond become healthy again. I explained that the shoreline slopes are fragile and when people build roads around the pond or steps on the slopes they must also plant vegetation and catch basins to capture the run-off from storms. I told him that the land around the cove has been eroded by thousands of people walking down the slopes where there are no steps. I reassured him that everyone is working to make sure the erosion is taken care of so that we do not cause any more problems for the pond.
The pond will get better but only if all of us pay attention to what the pond is telling us. It is up to us to heal the pond. We must do this for us, for our children and grandchildren, for the pond and for the planet. There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. This pond is our small part of Spaceship Earth.
I am reminded of a poem by David Dellinger which speaks to the larger issues of global warming. Global warming has come to Concord and to our beloved White Pond...
it's 3:23 in the morning
and I'm awake
because my great- great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great- great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?
as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?
what did you do