Peak Foliage

Peak Foliage
October on Preston Pond

Brief History of Preston Pond

Born from glaciers about 13,500 years ago, the original pond was only what is now the wider north end. Probably about 10,000 years ago, as the modern forest started to take root, beavers colonized the pond and expanded it (old dams are under the water surface).

With the arrival of Europeans in New York and coastal New England, a vigorous fur trade grew in the 17th Century. Beavers are particularly vulnerable to trapping since they are easy to find and they were wiped out by the 18th Century. With no beavers to maintain the dams, Preston Pond drained and appears on 18th and 19th Century maps as only the smaller original glacial north end.

Reintroduction in the 1920's and 1930's led to beavers recolonizing Preston Pond. By chance, they arrived the same year my grandfather bought the property in 1946. Ever since then, beavers have lived unmolested (by humans) on Preston Pond - until February 2016. They have never caused flooding problems or over-eaten the surrounding forest stand to the point that they abandoned the pond. Their population has doubtlessly had its ups and downs, but they have managed their affairs here for the last 70 years as beavers did for millions of years: on their own, despite some of their top predators having been exterminated by humans.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

There must have been a party out on the pond this morning. The ski tracks and foot prints literally cover the surface! I was head down working in the office (not the studio today, or I might have seen them) and didn't hear a thing. The ice is OK ... mostly. The rain and slush has refrozen, but there are spots along the edge that are very weak.

 Nainette loves tunnels, culverts, caves - any enclosed mysterious place. She spent quite a while exploring this one. There must be some terrier in her. This was off trail.

I left the house much earlier today, but wandered off trail a lot, so still didn't get up to Libbys much before sunset. Trails are very icy even with the big melt, so some sort of grips on your boots are a good idea (I use Microspikes).
This is the rocky bald north of the Pinnacle. I first found it when I was about 10 or 11. Have done some painting from it over the years.

As a matter of fact, I did a very detailed sketch of this very tree (the tall one on the right) about 25 years ago. Oddly, it looks about the same. I'll have to dig through my files and see if I can find the sketch.
 What a difference a day makes.
 Mt. Mansfield from the north side of Libbys Hill.
 Evening light on beech leaves near the top of Libbys.

 Camels Hump from Libbys Lookout as the sun set.

Top of Libbys Lookout in the last rays of the sunset.

And seconds after the sun went down behind the Adirondacks.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Well, I've heard of heavy water, but out to the the pond yesterday morning with the dogs, I found "heavy ice." That is weird because of course, ice floats. Came back with the camera (and of course the dogs). It was 50 F and raining. This is the dam at the south end of the pond (our land). The ice must have frozen to the shore and then been inundated with the surging water from the rain - and had enough flex to bow up in the middle, because that is still floating above the water surface. The brook is roaring and the dam is overflowing, but only in some few spots and not with the sort of force that broke a section in June 2013 (I'll post that later).
Looking north, up to the rest of the pond from the lower dam.

I believe I mentioned anticipating that the reflections might be good with the rain. I was hoping for some sun, but the play of grays was appealing too - and all that there was. Dealing with Mother Nature, you make do with what you get ... and I'm rarely disappointed.

The entire lake was a fascinating weave of muted colors, shapes, and patterns.

This was shot from on top of the east shore ledges.
Shiloh inspecting the submerged shore ice. Shiloh inspecting the submerged ice.

The lower portion of Preston Pond from the west shore below the submerged dam. Beaver trail and old chewed stump from years past. We are keeping a regular eye out for sign of any surviving beavers after the trapping that the town Select Board allowed. The large adult male and a juvenile male were killed earlier this month. There was no wildlife management issue or flooding issue. This was allowed based on a recreational/hobby/tradition justification.

Nainette is perched on the base of a Yellow Birch that either was chewed in deep snow, or by a very athletic beaver.
 The submerged upper dam on our way to check on the trapping site at the active beaver lodge.

The trapper put two traps between the lodge entrances and the underwater food pile on February 9. He came back on February 12 and pulled the two dead beavers up from under the ice and removed the traps, but left this wire part of the set.

This is the first trapping that has ever been allowed on this property going back at least 70 years.
Hard to believe that Monday we were walking on the ice. This pattern was from the shallow water at the beaver marsh at the north end of the pond. Bonnie spotted it while I was out on the open ice. Moving water, proximity to residual warmth in the ground (shallow) and possibly dissolved solvents (depressing freezing point) can keep areas like this from freezing as solidly as the rest of the pond.

Bonnie and Nainette in the marsh. When I was bringing Nainette back from the Inuit village of Nain, Labrador (northernmost settlement in Labrador) where I'd found and rescued her as a puppy, my friend and crewmate, NY artist Cole Johnson remarked, "She's a climber." Cole raises and trains hunting dogs, so he knew. Oh so right he was. Nainette is like a cat when it comes to climbing.

It has been an exceedingly poor winter for snow, but there are always interesting things to see in any case and Preston Pond never disappoints. This Red Maple leaf has managed to form a perfect depression in the ice. Interesting to ponder on how it did. It isn't heavy enough to sink into the slush during prior thaws (I don't imagine). My guess is a combination of alternating freeze thaw (which we have certainly had), combined with the dark leaf absorbing heat and melting down into slushy ice which then refroze. Open to other suggestions.

I don't know if someone ice fishing made this hole, or if there is a stump under it, but the refreeze pattern is fascinating; almost outer space-like.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ice margins along the marsh at the north end from Monday. Pouring now. Should be some interesting reflections on the pond tomorrow.

The ice is only a few inches thick and constantly moaning and complaining (which takes some getting used to when you are out on it). Oxbow Mountain off to the NE beyond the north end of the pond. Bonnie and the dogs and I took a circuit of the lake.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

After over a year navigating the USCIS immigration process, this past summer, Bonnie and I started to focus on settling back in to West Bolton. Bonnie was finally legal - well permanently: she was legal before, but a woman without a country. She received her Green Card in July and after I returned from a canoe expedition in Alaska (22 Grizzlies), we settled down to get our late summer/fall chores done before freeze up.

(None of these guys in Bolton yet: Kobuk River Alaska)
October ushered in one of the most remarkable foliage seasons in many years. We live about 100 yards from the southwest shore of Preston Pond, so it is easy to be out every day.
In any weather.

And any time of day.

I usually take the dogs up around Libbys Lookout
We pass the Upper Pond on the way.

Which you can just see peeking through the foliage from Libbys.

It is usual to see one or two beavers which is always a pleasure and sometimes very entertaining.

Charlotte (who we lost in December) was well known to the beavers. One loved to play with her, and as reported by other people on the trails, with several other dogs too. It would swim in close and then as Charlotte chased, swim away, easily outdistancing her. But then it would start a slow curve so that Charlotte could cut to the inside (photos from last spring on Preston Pond).

Charlotte would get pretty close before ...

SPLASH!!! and gone. Only to start all over again. Charlotte was not a young dog anymore, so after a bit I'd call her in. The beaver would follow us to the end of the pond.
Then the leaves dropped off
 The geese dropped in  


And the pond started to freeze

"First Freeze" Snows in the Air: Preston Pond  12" x 15" acrylic