This morning while I was walking the dogs around the back forty the local great blue heron flew out of our pond. Every time I see him in flight I am transported back a million years to a time when huge graceful creatures ruled the earth. Over the last few weeks this heron has taken to visiting our pond as the water level in the brook has declined to a trickle. Such a visitor makes me glad we had the pond dug last year through a cost sharing partnership with Wetlands Habitat Fund.
We converted a couple of acres of low, wet bush at the back of the farm that had never been dry enough to till into a wetland habitat. Since then the pond has had frequent visitors, among them the heron. But in this dry summer we have watched the water level that three months ago was over the banks recede to the point where it may not have value to the heron much longer.
In this country we are blessed with more fresh water per capita than any other country. Yet this summer shows how deceptive this fact can be. For a brief moment last spring we had more than we could use. Now it has gone and we find ourselves trying to conserve what has remained and wishing we had been able to save more when it was in abundance.
Our rain barrels have really served us well this year. I highly recommend them. Lids prevent mosquitoes from using them as breeding grounds. The water we have collected is keeping our garden going. Rain barrels can be purchased from City of Kawartha Lakes Waste Management Department, but there is a waiting line. If you are in a hurry, there are local vendors that sell barrels with lids. You just have to cut a drain spout hole in the lid. You know, life is funny. My grandparents had rain barrels to serve their garden, a habit they had developed in the thirties. I used to think that was silly when all they had to do was turn on the tap. Now it’s our turn to develop our own appreciation of water. When we moved to the farm thirty two years ago Jack, the former owner, bragged that the barn well was an unlimited source of supply. It had watered fifty cattle without going dry. Now, for the past three years, even with our limited demands the well has gone dry between late July and early September. As a community we have taxed this aquifer to its limits and we must learn to do better than simply digging deeper.
So, as I watch this graceful bird flying over our field I wonder where he will go when our pond and the brook combined can no longer meet his needs. Not many years ago our brook, teeming with fish, supported several herons. Now this lone remaining must travel for his food. I wish him well as his search for food and water that brought him to our pond now takes him away because, in this ever shrinking world, we are all trying to balance the same lifeboat. See you next time.