No See-um Pond

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(Host) On a recent walk, commentator Alan Boye didn’t find what he was looking for – but he found something else to think about.

(Boye) I’m walking up a hill near Hardwick Vermont trying to get a glimpse of a pond that is supposed to be near here. It isn’t as simple as it sounds – it’s one of only a dozen or so ponds of this size in the entire state of Vermont that the general public can’t get to by car.

I left my car on the side of a class-4 road a mile back, right beside a “Keep Out Private Property” sign so shot full of holes it looked like a yellow hunk of Cabot’s best Swiss. Since then I’ve been walking up a scratchy logging road just trying to find a way in to the pond.

I walk deeper into the beech and yellow birch trees and over low, marshy places thick with bugs and brambles. I keep squinting, but I can’t get so much as a glint of the pond’s shimmer through the thick woods at the edge of the logging road. Instead of water, I see orange plastic flags left by surveyors and occasional “Keep Out” signs.

I follow the logging road until it ends at a level clearing. I walk back to the western edge of the open space and find an ancient stone wall in the woods. I climb onto the wall in order to get a better view, trying to see the pond.

I still hold a faint hope of being able to sit for a while in the golden sunlight on its quiet, isolated shore. In mid-summer nothing sooths the soul like the glimmer of sunlight on a Vermont pond. I had come here hoping to sit for a while and soak in a pristine view, unspoiled by humanity’s traces.

I stand on my tiptoes on top of the stone wall and peer through the tangle of trees. I can see nothing but the long line of the old wall as it disappears into the dark forest. Despite the fact that ancient trees now grow out of the rubble, the wall is as straight as if plotted by a surveyor.

I step off the wall, and walk slowly back to the car. I’m no longer interested in finding my way to the pond. Instead, I am thinking of how that old gray wall, which once so boldly announced to ancient travelers: this belongs to me; this is my private land, has fallen silent under the great march of time.

This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.

Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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