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.

Friday, February 26, 2016

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.


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