Tag Archives: JoeAnn Hart

Stung!

unnamedStung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean, by Lisa-ann Gershwin (The University of Chicago Press, 2013)

JoeAnn Hart Submits her book review for Stung!, published December 30, 2013.

I read an entire book on jellyfish, and it was worth every gelatinous minute. Here is my review, originally published on ecolitbooks.com.

They’re here, and we’ve not just cleared out the guest room for them, we’re opened up the front parlor, the master bedroom, rumpus room, and kitchen. Soon we’ll be barricaded in the basement with a stinging, gelatinous substance dripping on us through the cracks in the ceiling. I’m talking about jellyfish. Our relationship with them has changed for the worse. As they fill our fishing nets and clog our nuclear plant intake valves around the world, they reflect our relationship with the entire eco-system. And now it’s time to say goodnight. DNA research has recently stripped the title of First Multi-Cellular Animal from the sponge and handed it to the jellyfish, and they might very well turn out to be the Last.

When I wrote jellyfish into the plot of Float, which was released in early 2013, I could not have imagined how dire the situation would get in such a short period of time. I was still thinking that if we could find a use for them — like turning them into a true bio-plastic — there might be hope. After reading Stung! by Lisa-ann Gershwin, I am not so sure about that anymore. No matter how many we harvest, more jellyfish will just bloom in their place, because the problem isn’t just that there are too many of them, it’s that they are the bellwether for a very sick ocean. As oceanographer Sylvia Earle writes in the intro, As seas become stressed, the jellyfish are there, like an eagle to an injured lamb or golden staph to a postoperative patient – more than just a symptom of weakness, more like the angel of death.

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Gershwin puts jellies in the greater perspective of the general ocean health, discussing at length how jellyfish blooms (population explosions) are the result of degraded ecosystems as well as the driver of further decline. So a large part of the book is spent explaining, in layperson’s language but with the fastidiousness of a researcher, how, exactly, jellies are able to take advantage of even the smallest anthropogenic perturbation, the fancy word for manmade disturbances. These include the usual culprits of ocean acidification and warming climates from our carbon waste, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, oil spills, leaching plastics, and radioactive material.

Read the full review here: Stung!

Daisy and I Have a Mug Up

Written by Guest Author JoeAnn Hart ~ First Published on April 13, at Coffee with Canine.

Who is in the photo?

This is a photo of me and my dog Daisy. I’m JoeAnn Hart, author of the novels Addled and Float, both of which have all sorts of animals in them, including dogs. We live in Gloucester, Massachusetts, although Daisy is from West Virginia, where she was picked up off the streets when she was around nine months old. I adopted her from Save A Dog in Sudbury, Ma. in 2010, so she’s still young. She’s a messy Cock-a-poo, with a miniature poodle dad, and a Cocker Spaniel grandmother, who slept around, so Daisy’s mom was only half Cocker Spaniel. We only know this because my sister is a vet and had Daisy’s DNA tested.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I had to drop my husband’s car off to be repaired, and in exchange, he bought me a coffee at Lone Gull. Daisy came along for the ride. She loves the car and all the smells on Main Street, but she has to wear a harness when she goes anywhere with me. Her head is smaller than her neck, so a collar is just a place to hang her license.

What’s brewing?

I’m having a large light roast with milk. Hot, because it’s not ice coffee season quite yet.

Any treats for you or Daisy on this occasion?

I was tempted, because I love Lone Gull’s almond cookies, but resisted. No goodies for either of us. Daisy loves sweets but she puts on weight too easily to indulge her. She finds ways to indulge herself as it is. We think she was raised in a dumpster in the back of a bakery, because she cannot resist frosting. At Christmas we found her on the dining room table with her face in the whipped cream and gingerbread, but that was nothing compared to last summer, when the day after my son’s wedding we found her with all fours in the leftover cake. She is a very well-behaved dog except for this one strange obsession.

How did Daisy get her name? Any nicknames?

Daisy was the name that came with her from Save A Dog. For weeks we played around with other names and none of them fit quite as well. So Daisy she stayed. Sometimes we call her Sausage because of that weight issue. We don’t consider that an insult, and neither does she. It is simply her shape.

How were you and Daisy united?

I had lost my standard poodle, Annie, in 2009. She was 16 years old when she died and I was just too heartbroken to get another right away. When I was ready in the fall of 2010, I started looking at shelters across New England. I knew I wanted a rescue, but I needed a hair breed or mix because of allergies, and I wanted a medium-sized dog this time. It turns out that most dogs at shelters tend to be either very small or very large. I spent a lot of time searching near and far, but every time a candidate popped up, it was already taken by the time I contacted them. In December I decided to wait until late winter, when, unfortunately, many puppies given as Christmas presents are surrendered for adoption. Then, three days before Christmas, I got an email saying Daisy had just arrived at Save A Dog. I drove down there and I fell in love. She was exactly the dog I was looking for. We took her home the day before Christmas. 

Who are your dog’s best pet-pals?

She loves other dogs. She adores Gussie, my daughter’s Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, but Gussie doesn’t even look at her when she visits so we can’t call her a pal. Daisy was an only dog until this summer, when my husband got a Golden Doodle puppy, Happy. It was then we realized that Daisy loved dogs, not puppies. Happy hung on her ear all day, like a large fuzzy earring. Now Happy is older and calmer, not an annoying puppy, so they are best friends. They especially like to chase squirrels around the yard together.

What is Daisy’s best quality?

Daisy has amazingly soulful eyes. She always looks as if she’s in deep sympathy with my feelings. Then again, she looks as if she is in deep sympathy with everyone’s feelings.

If Daisy could change one thing about New Englanders, what would it be?

Daisy wishes New Englanders would make more cakes with frosting and leave them unattended. She has very powerful little thighs, so leaving them on tables is just fine with her. She’ll get there.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Daisy could speak, which actors should do her voice?

Jennifer Aniston. Daisy is that sweet.

If Daisy could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

I’d ask her what her life was like before we met. What was she doing wandering the streets of West Virginia? I know there are a lot of puppy mills there, so I sometimes think she was tossed in a dumpster when she didn’t turn out to be a perfect Cock-a-Poo. A dumpster behind a bakery.

The Plasticene Era

Written by guest author JoeAnn Hart. Originally posted on her blog Float

It’s so hopeless,” a young friend said, tossing a plastic water bottle in the trash. “I don’t believe in recycling.”

“Don’t believe?” I said, reaching into the garbage. “I didn’t know it was a religion.”

“It’s a faith. A faith that you’re doing the right thing. A feel-good gesture that masks a larger problem.”

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As I dropped the bottle into the recycling receptacle, I felt that familiar spike of serotonin from having done my bit for the environment, and I knew she was right. Self-satisfaction with our little actions can keep us from taking up the larger, more difficult, actions. Recycling is grossly inefficient. Every year, Americans throw away three-hundred pounds of plastic per person, only ten percent of which gets recycled, and poorly recycled at that. Not only is it down-cycled into something like decking material, it uses an inordinate amount of energy in the process, as we truck empty water bottles all over the country. All this so we can re-use a toxic material? When we die, our bodies will decompose into a bit of carbon and methane. Plastic never disappears. It breaks down into smaller bits of polymer, releasing pseudo-estrogens and other hazardous chemicals in the process, until it is the size of a single molecule. This is where the waste stream meets the food chain. The molecules enter the water table under the landfills where they make their way to the sea, to be devoured by fish fooled into thinking it’s plankton. Then we eat the fish.

Read more: See JoeAnn’s blog Float for the rest of the story. JoeAnn is the author of the recently published novel Float.

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Cover Artist Karen Ristuben

Unnatural Selection

Guest writer JoeAnn Hart’s recent post at Float Blog

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During my son’s newborn assessment years ago, the pediatrician turned my rosy baby around in his hands like an experienced fruit vendor with a melon. “Look,” he said, as he placed the baby down on his side. “My favorite anomaly.”

Favorite anomaly? Anomaly, anomaly, anomaly. I couldn’t remember what it meant, and certainly not in relation to my baby boy. Atypical? Abnormal? That couldn’t be right. A mother wants a pediatrician to say it is the most normal baby he has even seen in the history of babies.

He tugged on my son’s ear. “There,” he said, “a gill.”

Dear god. A gill. It was only a small pinprick, as if he’d been born with a pierced ear, but this evolutionary tic was too high up on the ear rim for me to pass him off as a very hip baby. To make matters worse, in my family, the distinctive marker of infant beauty is related to how small and flat the ears are, so everyone looks at them first. I kept a tight little cap on him for months.

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Scoot on up to the winter of 2013. Super Storm Sandy. Flooding. Powerful ocean surges. One extreme weather event after another, and the Atlantic succeeds in changing the coastline yet again. Adapting to drastic change may mean more than just picking up one’s shell and moving inland, for when a landscape changes, so do we. For most of the past 150 years, since Darwin first laid out the ground rules for natural selection, scientists assumed that humans had stopped evolving. They believed that with technology, medical advances, and culture, humans had become immune to evolutionary pressures. But no. Like all other living things on Earth, humans undergo genetic changes in response to conditions around them, passing beneficial adaptations down to their offspring. We are not exempt from the laws of nature. And the more extreme the pressures, the faster we will latch on to any mutation that might give an extra edge to our survival.

To continue reading, visit Float Blog

charlesdarwin-400x513Charles Darwin

Q and A with novelist JoeAnn Hart

JoeAnn will be reading from her recently published novel Float tonight, Tuesday, March 12th, at 7pm, at Toad Hall Bookstore in Rockport.

JoeAnn Hart Garden -1 ©Kim Smith 2013

There’s a Maine town in Float that is suspiciously like Gloucester, Ma. Is Gloucester your model?

JAH: Gloucester is the inspiration for Port Ellery, Maine, but not the model. Float is fiction, so I needed more leeway with geography and temperament than a real city could offer. As I was writing Float I had an wholly imagined city in my head, but I was not above borrowing bits and pieces from Gloucester on an as-needed basis.

Such as the fish dehydration plant? Seacrest Ocean Products in Float has more than a passing resemblance to a company in Gloucester. 

JAH: When I first came to Cape Ann in 1979, the old dehyde plant was still in East Gloucester, and the smell as you drove up over the hill from the intersection at 128 and Bass Avenue … well, it was quite the pungent introduction to my new home. Now Neptune’s Harvest in the Fort transforms fish waste — the 70% of a fish that remains after filleting — into amazing fertilizer and there’s barely a smell. Who could not be inspired by that?

Parts of Float have to do with the relationship individuals have with the sea. What is yours? 

JAH: For a long time I wasn’t a water person. I took my kids to the beach, but other than that, I didn’t like to get wet, and I really didn’t like being on a sailboat, what with people yelling and booms swinging. Then, after watching the International Dory races off Niles Beach, I fell in love with wooden rowing dories. I bought one of the Committee’s old practice boats, named her “Doreen,” and after a rather brutal learning curve with my rowing partner, managed to get the boat to move across the water. It was both exercise and relaxation, and I learned to appreciate the wonders of the sea. The best is when a seal pops up to see what we’re up to, like a visitor from another world. “Doreen” finally died a couple of years ago, but as a dues-paying member of the Dory Committee, I’ll take one of their practice dories out for a spin around the harbor now and then. Gloucester Maritime usually has one or two for members to take out as well.

What’s with all the animals? The ferret, for instance. What is a ferret doing in Float

JAH: There are always animals in my work, because there are always animals in my life. We have the usual cats and dogs, but we take in rescue livestock too, so we have donkeys (from Save Your Ass Rescue), chickens, a goat and a pig. Over the years, the children have brought home more animals than I can list, including finches, hamsters, and rabbits. Many rabbits. One year, my son brought home a pair of ferrets, and they turned out to be both smart and personable. They pretty much ran free in my son’s room, so I’d open up a sock drawer and there they’d be, curled up in a ball. They loved people and were as clever as chimps, but they smelled terrible. Worse than any dehyde plant. So when my son went off to college, they went too. I placed them with another male teenager, a species apparently immune to smells, but I missed them. So I brought a ferret back in Float, and named him Fingers.

When you sit down at your desk to write, what do you look out at?

JAH: I used to work in the guest bedroom where the family couldn’t find me. It was quiet, but it looked out onto a messy woodpile. Now that the kids have left the nest, I’ve moved my office into one of their bedrooms, with a distant view of the harbor. It’s beautiful, but I have to keep the curtains closed most of the time or else I’d never get any work done. I’d just be daydreaming all day, watching the boats go by.

JoeAnn Hart Garden -3 ©Kim Smith 2013

Snapshots from JoeAnn’s magical garden–just to get us in the mood for delicious warm weather. Throughout the summer JoeAnn and Gordon welcome me to their gorgeous gardens – sometimes I am there filming for hours. Thank you JoeAnn and Gordon for your always gracious hospitality.

JoeAnn Hart Garden ©Kim Smith 2013

JoeAnn Hart Garden -2 ©Kim Smith 2013

JoeAnn Hart Garden -4 ©Kim Smith 2013

Excerpt from JoeAnn Hart’s Latest Novel FLOAT

float JoeAnn HartTen Bells’ doors opened at 5:30 a.m. so that dock workers could get a quick snort before work, or to offer amber consolation if there was none. In the past, and perhaps even into the present, the bar was known as a place where captains, short of men for some dangerous journey or another, would troll for crew, make them paralytic with drink, then carry them on board on stretchers and lay them out like corpses in the hold. And that was exactly how Duncan felt the next morning.

“Sassafras,” he croaked, without opening his eyes. Thanks to several more oyster shooters after dinner, Duncan had already reached his waterline by the time they left Slocum’s apartment, then he took more onboard at Ten Bells. Bottom shelf bourbon, $3.05 a shot. He’d ended up, somehow, fully clothed on the sofa in his office and woke to the sound of a rally outside his window. Annuncia’s basso profundo voice blared through a loudspeaker. “A clean sea is a profitable sea!” she shouted. It was 10 a.m.

He curled tighter into the ball he was already in and pulled his windbreaker over his head. He’d forgotten that he’d told her that she could launch her Boat Garbage Project from Seacrest’s loading dock today, but it was coming back to him loud and clear now.  He had assumed she meant at the end of the workday, but of course, she would want to do it early enough to catch that evening’s news cycle.

The crowd started to chant, and the steady noise bore through his eardrums like seaworms. “Bring the garbage back to shore! Bring the garbage back to shore!”

Annuncia quieted them down and continued speaking. “We complain about the crap from outfall pipes and pollution on our fish, and then we throw our own garbage overboard. What’s up with that?”

The crowd emitted a low boo, and he could hear Wade’s voice leading the pack.  Even though Annuncia was at the microphone, this project was really his baby. On Earth Day that spring, instead of cleaning beaches with the other volunteers, he decided to motor from boat to boat asking for garbage. When they saw how successful he’d been, a group of kids started making the rounds every weekend in a pedal-driven barge built from plastic water bottles, and it wasn’t long before some of the fishermen and pleasure boaters started to bring it in on their own.  The problem was, as always, that there was no place to put it.  Often the bags were just left on the docks at the mercy of the gulls and crows, and that meant debris scattered everywhere, on land and water. Annuncia hadn’t realized the extent to which everyone had been throwing their trash overboard before that.  It was against the law, but they had to catch you first, and the ocean was a mighty big place.

Visit JoeAnn’s website to purchase your copy of Float.

JoeAnn Hart

JoeAnn Hart’s Book Launch Party at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center

JoeAnn Hart Float party ©Kim Smith 2013

JoeAnn Hart’s book release party at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center was a whopping success. So many congratulations JoeAnn!!!  There are few things more monumental than publishing a book with a publishing house, especially in light of the ease in which books are self-published today. I purchased my copy of Float Friday night and haven’t put it down.  See GMG tomorrow for an excerpt from Float.

JoeAnn Hart Float party -1 ©Kim Smith 2013

JoeAnn Hart Karen Ristuben Float party ©Kim Smith 2013

Cover Artist Karen Ristuben and Author JoeAnn Hart

JoeAnn Hart Jen Fahey Christie Powell Float party ©Kim Smith 2013JPG

Jen Fahey, Christie Powell, JoeAnn Hart

Tom Hauck Lois Philip Budrose JoeAnn Hart Float party ©Kim Smith 2013

Tom Hauck, Lois and Philip Budrose

Greg bover JoeAnn Hart Float party ©Kim Smith 2013

Greg Bover

JoeAnn Hart Karen Ristuben-2 Float party ©Kim Smith 2013

Karen Ristuben

Visit JoeAnn’s website to purchase your copy of Float.

JoeAnn Hart’s Latest Novel Float Out Now!!!

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Float” is all of these things: joyful and troubling, hilarious and somber, evocative and introspective.” ~ Necessary Fiction

Ashland Creek Press Announces the publication of Float:

We are thrilled to announce the publication of JoeAnn Hart’s smart, witty second novel.

To learn more about JoeAnn Hart and Float, read this Q&A with JoeAnn on the Ashland Creek Press blog. Also, be sure to check out this Q&A on art, the environment, and advocacy with JoeAnn and Float cover artist Karen Ristuben.
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Float is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as through your favorite indie bookstore, including The Bookstore of GloucesterFloat is also available as an e-book for the Kindle, the Nook, and at the iBookstore. You can also download an excerpt here.Visit JoeAnn’s website for news, reviews, events, her blog, and much more.
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Duncan rescues the seagull, not realizing that he’s being filmed by a group of conceptual artists and that the footage will soon go viral, turning both him and the gull into minor celebrities. And when an unsavory yet very convincing local, Osbert Marpol, talks him into a not-quite-legitimate loan arrangement, Duncan can’t help but agree in a last-ditch attempt to save the jobs of his employees.When Duncan Leland looks down at the garbage-strewn beach beneath his office window, he sees the words God Help Us scrawled in the sand. While it seems a fitting message—not only is Duncan’s business underwater, but his marriage is drowning as well—he goes down to the beach to erase it. Once there, he helps a seagull being strangled by a plastic six-pack holder—the only creature in worse shape than he is at the moment.

For a while, it seems as if things are finally looking up for Duncan—yet between his phone-sex-entrepreneur ex-girlfriend’s very public flirtations and the ever-mysterious terms of his new loan, Duncan realizes that there’s no such thing as strings-free salvation—and that it’s only a matter of time before the tide rises ominously around him again.

A wry tale of financial desperation, conceptual art, insanity, infertility, seagulls, marital crisis, jellyfish, organized crime, and the plight of a plastic-filled ocean, JoeAnn Hart’s novel takes a smart, satirical look at family, the environment, and life in a hardscrabble seaside town in Maine.

JoeAnn HartJoeAnn Hart ~ Brendan Pike Photo

Guest Writer: Author JoeAnn Hart

What is the liquid equivalent of unearthed? Not unwatered. Dewatered? No. How about dredged? That’s more about muck than water, but for my purposes, it will work on a metaphorical level, as in, to dredge up the past. Gloucester did not feel the full force of Hurricane Sandy this fall, which gouged out New York and New Jersey, remapping their shoreline and reminding us that water may be unpredictable, but so, it seems, is land. Still, we got bruised just being on the sidelines, as massive swells spewed up heaps of seaweed along with the usual flotsam, our floating history. On Raymond’s Beach along the outer harbor, big ticket items included fish bins, net balls, blue tarps, and a beige rug.

 As Daisy ran up and down the beach sniffing out seagull wings, I gathered loose debris and moved it beyond the wrack line so it could be collected at a later date. Empty motor oil containers, rubber gloves, water bottles full of brown water, it seemed all I saw was trash. My friend, Jackie, who makes seaglass jewelry, once told me that you can look for seaglass or you can look for sea pottery shards, but you can’t do both at the same time. I was so focused on plastic I couldn’t see anything else, and nearly walked past a pale bisque figure the size of my middle toe.

Smooth as a pebble and blotchy with seaweed stains, this small seafarer had spent a lifetime under the concealing sea, maybe as long as a century, back when bisque dolls were commonplace. She is no longer that staid Victorian, but has undergone a sea-change. Naked, limbless, and marked with great age, she should be in a museum labeled “Salacia, Roman goddess of the sea.” Like other relics from an ancient world, the doll survived because she knew the great trick was to flow with the tide.

What of her past? She may have been left at the beach by a child, or fallen off a boat. Who says it was an accident? She could have been thrown out to sea by some snitty Edwardian toddler, or dumped as municipal garbage into the deep, as was our coastal custom not so long ago. She has holes at her shoulders where wire once allowed for movable arms, but salt ate the copper tendons, releasing first one arm from her body, then the other. The seas rolled her along the ocean floor, until one day she lost her head. Eventually she found peace wedged among the rocks, hidden by swaying underwater plants, with only a dull sheen of sunlight above. In time, her legs disappeared below her knees. No need for them in the place where legless creatures dominate. All the while, tidal sands brushed against her body, healing over the wounds and reducing her to a bare human essence.

Then a storm like Sandy comes along and changes the depth and nature of her sanctuary, shooting her back into the tides. How she materialized on Raymond’s Beach is a mystery. How I saw her is a miracle. Perhaps our eyes are programmed to spot a human form above all else. At any rate, she changed my focus. Seeing her nestled there in the sluice, the beach was no longer just a stretch of land where garbage comes to rest. Freshly washed by the outgoing sea, the wet sand glowed in the autumn light as gulls scoured the blinding waterline for morsels. Suddenly, instead of seeing nothing but garbage, all I saw was loveliness. I named the doll Sandy and took her home. She sits on the high ground of my desk, a lesson from Salacia’s realm: Do not just focus on trash, real or metaphorical, but keep your eyes and heart open for when random beauty comes washing up at your feet.

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I hope you enjoyed JoeAnn’s beautiful writing. She is the author of the novels Addled and the forthcoming Float (Ashland Creek Press, February 2013). Float, set in coastal New England, involves the fishing industry, conceptual art, jellyfish, marital woes, and plastics in the ocean.

Guest Writer: Local Author JoeAnn Hart Shares Her Beautiful Story About Niles Pond

JoeAnn Hart is the author of the novels Addled and the forthcoming Float (Ashland Creek Press, February 2013). Float, set in coastal New England, involves the fishing industry, conceptual art, jellyfish, marital woes, and plastics in the ocean.

Ocean Path at Niles Pond

Niles Pond and the Narrow Path

Folklore has it that Niles Pond was once in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the closest body of fresh water to the ocean, but I can’t verify it. No matter. Not only does it seem true, but as with other Guinness records, such as the heaviest weight lifted by tongue (27.5 lbs.), it also seems impossible. Yet there it is. This 38 acre pond is separated from the salty Atlantic by a causeway just wide enough for a footpath. There is Niles on one side, neatly defined and calm, and on the other, the pounding surf of Brace Cove. To stand between the two is to feel washed in conflicting emotions. I walk this route with Daisy, my fuzzy mutt who believes herself to be a famed hunter of ducks and likes to splash into the dark pond up to her sternum to stir them up.

Niles is named after the farmer who once owned Eastern Point, the small spit of Gloucester land where I live. Of the many unique features of the intertwined land and waterscapes here, Niles is nature’s odd duck. It is a Massachusetts Great Pond, meaning that it is like a Common, where citizens have the right to graze their sheep, except this Common is made of water. Instead of grazing, it is reserved for hunting, fishing, ice-making, and recreation. Duck hunting is no longer feasible because of all the homes built up along the shore, and fishing is also a moot point because the perch have been eaten by the snapping turtles. As for ice, Cape Pond Ice (“the coolest guys in town”) churns it out for the fishing boats these days. That leaves recreation. I’ve never seen anyone but Daisy swim in the pond, what with those snappers, but there are skaters when there is ice. There was no ice last winter, speaking of breaking records, but that is a topic for another time. The point is, Niles is left mostly in the hands of wildlife, as nature intended.

Phragmites at Niles

But what does nature intend? Does it intend for the pond to be choked by phragmites, the feathery reed that is prowling along the perimeter? In geologic time, Niles was once part of the ocean, an extension of Brace Cove. Over the years, rocks rolled to shore, sand accumulated, and the dune got higher until one day it was shut off from the sea. A natural spring bubbled up and slowly replaced the salt water with fresh. In the 1830’s, sensing that the ocean might want to stake a claim again, Farmer Niles reinforced the 400-foot dune with granite to preserve the pond for ice-cutting and “ornament.” It remains a prime resting place for migratory seabirds, and a source of fresh water for the stealthy mammals of the land, including fisher cats and raccoons. At any given time, grebes, cormorants, and ducks float on the surface, while herons and egrets stand around on one leg pretending to be reeds. The mute swans are probably a human introduction, but they are hardly mute. They hiss and snort and otherwise act aggressively because people feed them, which confuses wild animals and makes them testy. That, and the fact that the turtles pull their cygnets from below and eat them. But the phragmites are more aggressive than either swan or snapper.

Migrants

According to Fish and Wildlife, non-native phragmites appeared in
coastal ports in the eastern
 United States in the 19th century, probably as seeds clinging to the hulls of ships. Maybe humankind’s natural purpose on earth is to help immobile species move around the globe. It is hard to figure out where we fit in, but in this aspect, we’ve succeeded. The rapid spread of phragmites in the 20thcentury is attributed to habitat disturbance and eutrophication. Raise your hand if you know what that is. It’s over fertilization from the nitrates from lawn fertilizers and phosphates in laundry detergent seeping into the pond. Phragmites are usually an indicator of a wetlands system out of balance. Well, aren’t we all?

Daisy on the path

Niles Pond wants to grow up to be Niles Marsh. Humans want it to stay a pond, as, I’m sure, do those migratory seabirds. A group of residents is working to have the phragmites dredged. But they’re tenacious plants, with stolons like bullwhips. The upside of this tenacity is that they might hold the earth in place when the Atlantic comes calling for the pond. But, again, that is a topic for another time.

Mallards and Cormorants

Daisy and I do not think of all this when we walk. Her mind is on ducks, mine on “ornament.” It’s particularly hard getting out of the house this time of year. I have to leave unfinished work behind in order to beat the early-setting sun, but Daisy and I need the exercise and the mental cleansing. When we get to the causeway, she scrambles down the steep bank of Farmer Niles’ stones in search of her ducks, while I, shedding myself of the day’s challenges, walk that narrow path between internal calm and unleashed energy.

Sunset at Niles

Reblogged from Newfound, the online journal about place for which JoeAnn is a monthly contributor.