I went back to check out the pond on the Shaker site as I planned, unfortunately on a sunny day. Next time, I’m sooo taking bug spray! While the abundance of mosquitoes make tasty snacks for the legions of dragonflies I saw, the skeeters certainly didn’t make for a fun walk.
The pond is really large to be a pond, but right now it’s low enough to wade across in most spots. The thick coating of water-lily pads gave way to small clear stretches of water here and there; a stream that emerged on the far end of the pond and splashed away toward the barn. The first time I visited I saw a 4-inch long crayfish and a small school of minnows in the stream near the barn.
I think the Shakers must have really loved grapes – everywhere I went there were grape vines draping off of every available tree. Most of them were loaded with tiny unripe grapes. I plan to check back in the fall and see exactly what kind of grapes they are, since they didn’t look like the wild muscadines I’m used to from the South.
I had an unexpected encounter with a very large bird while walking around the pond. I think it was probably a young vulture based on the small gifts I found – feathers scattered here and there all around the pond as if the bird sat and preened on every other tree. I didn’t actually see the bird clearly, just a large flying shape exploding out of the tree I was walking underneath.
Even though I hate feeling hot and sweaty and finding a tick crawling up my back, I enjoyed my walk at Ann Lee pond. Despite being in earshot of jets taking off and landing at the airport, the area has been allowed to revert to the natural site it once was. I imagine cows once stood in the middle of the pond, cooling off in the summer heat and munching water lilies. Today, it’s just the dragonflies, the birds, and the water-lilies. And the ticks.