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The Death Of A Pond

The logging crew could have left the pond alone and still allowed clearance for any passing logging vehicles. But that would have required a rudimentary respect for natural beauty. What are these brutes made of?

The Pond in its glory

“O! pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers” Shakespeare (from Julius Caesar).

“We end, I think, at what might be called the standard paradox of the twentieth century: our tools are better than we are, and grow faster than we do. They suffice to crack the atom, to command the tides. But, they do not suffice for the oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it....We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold

Barney stands and meditates in the Pond

Rage and grief

My present mood is one of rage and grief. Two miles from where I live was a little jewel of a pond beside a forest trail, that even in the midst of summer, offered a deep, cold bath for dogs like mine---- and I just learned, a little boy as well. It was welcome respite from the heat, and an opportunity for meditation. Even the dogs paused to take in its soothing silence. It was shrouded by trees, fed on one side by a stream coming from the other side of the trail. As the pond narrowed, it formed another stream which wound its way through the forest, broad enough to form an impenetrable marsh made tantalizing by its mysterious course. On sunny days shafts of light would allow glimpses of its beauty as if it was a strip-tease dancer trying to excite my imagination with fleeting revelations.

Days ago, in its mission to cut back the foliage that had encroached upon the two mile trail, a machine of some description massacred the site, laying waste to the pond's shield of trees and bushes, fragments of which were left strewn over it like a carpet. I looked upon it as if it were a loved one I found beaten, violated and left to die in a ditch, tossed aside as if rubbish. Destroyed without respect or ceremony.

Gratuitous destruction

The logging crew could have left the pond alone and still allowed clearance for any passing logging vehicles. But that would have required a rudimentary respect for natural beauty. What are these brutes made of? Have they no sense of the sacred? Did they never pause to marvel at this masterpiece of solitude and life? Wolves, cougars and bears have drank from that pond. Frogs, and many other creatures that I can't imagine had made it their home.

Our social system impotent to protect what we love

That pond died a lonely death. Murdered without witnesses, like a mob hit that will never be punished in a court of law. Its passing will escape wide notice. There were no protestors to bar the road to logging equipment, no petitions handed out to lobby for its protection, no politicians around to make it a cause celebre. After all, it was just one pond, one stream, one marsh. But nevertheless, it was a big part of my world, and of so many others of no political account. Not much in the grand scheme of things, I suppose, but it does serve to remind me that at the root of ecological destruction is a spiritual vacuity that when recruited by the profit motive, is a reckless, ruthless and apparently irresistible force.

Where does one direct anger? Who can be held accountable for this callous mentality that is so pervasive and universal? Corporate directors? Shareholders? Consumers of wood products? Slumbering voters? Parents? Human nature? I feel impotent and heartsick......

What is wrong with our species?

June 20, 2011

PS. A year has now past, and the wound has not yet healed.
June 9, 2012.


My condolences, Tim.

If you are destroying something and do not do it completely, maybe it creates greater cognitive dissonance than does totally annihilating it.

On the way to the local park I used to pass 2 of the most beautiful Grevillea Robin Gordon native flowering trees which were always well attended by nectar gathering wattle birds. I always admired them on my way past until one day I found that they had gone. I was devastated! How could anyone do this? The small trees were on either side of someone's front gate on the outside of the fence - but most probably belonging to that property. Eventually an array of purple daisies, of no interest to wattle birds took their place.

I used to enjoy walking along a mysterious bushy track on the Melbourne suburban foreshore. On my last walk I noticed that something was alarmingly wrong. It had all been clipped and cleared. What had been a winding tunnel of bushes with intermittent glimpses of the sea was now a wide clear straight path. Once again I was devastated! My access to nature and escape from the grinding, throbbing ballooning city had been further reduced. I contacted the council to let them know of my anguish and was told by the relevant officer that for every complaint like mine , the council received 10 asking for the path to be cleared. It is most likely that the people who asked for the path to be cleared are the same people who want the foreshore vegetation removed and replaced by lawn so that their houses opposite are afforded "uninterrupted" sea views. A great way to advertise a house for sale!

Even though I did not know your pond, Tim, I feel sad that is has gone. If it were the only pond to disappear maybe we could live with that , but it is part of a terrible process, unfortunately.