Trouble at Menotomy Rocks Park

According to Don Mattheisen’s Menotomy Rocks Park; A Centennial History, this woodland park in the midst of a dense grid of small yards was once called “Devils Den.” Transforming its tangled woods with looming granite outcrops and a swamp into a usable park required considerable will, expense and effort. When muck and leaves began to fill the pond, the town once again secured funds to dredge it out and installed aeration devices.

When I began my frequent walks here last October, it was particularly colorful. The ducks seemed to follow me. Perhaps they were only looking for handouts. I preferred to think they recognized me and knew I cared about them. A few stayed through the winter as the paths became slick with compacted snow.

As pond ice thawed, turtles sought warmth on a rock jutting out from a wetland area. Two swans probed for tender shoots for a few days. A pair of Canada geese treated the pond like it was their private resort and a muskrat swam over to hide in plain view under foliage at the water’s edge.

In late May, the robins and red wing blackbirds are as plentiful as ever, but only a single duck slept on a boulder. I wondered if the ducks left to raise their ducklings away from dogs and snapping turtles. Then I saw a notice in a plastic sleeve – Sixteen fish had died and water testing had been requested.

As if to ensure I had gotten the message about there being a larger threat, as I left the park, I saw a squirrel lying by the side of the road next to a rock. it was still breathing. I spoke to it in gentle tones wishing it (and all of us) well.

Updates: On August 14, 2021 I heard testing found that the water was not toxic. Perhaps the fish had died as a result of fireworks based on residue that was found nearby. But as of September 1, 2021 toxic algae growth was confirmed and warnings issued to stay out and keep dogs out of Hills Pond.

Only a single duck sleeping high on a boulder in the pond in late May

Many ducks of various species frequented the pond last October

A pair of Canada geese came in early March and stayed for several weeks

Turtles sunning themselves on a rock jutting into the pond on one of the first warm days

Swans probing for tender young shoots in the wetland at the side of the pond

Looking a bit like a small beaver, this muskrat has a narrow tail

The muskrat with its head poking up looks like a rock or log by the edge of the pond

This park is lucky – people care and have the will and resources to work at preserving its health
This is not the only body of water to have this problem in Arlington – Sept. 2021.

Moments in words and images

Sometimes I encounter moments that feel like poems. There is a clarity to them that has me stopping to notice. They can be small and quiet, easily missed. Nonetheless, every once in a while, such a moment can leave me breathless.

The first two spoke volumes without words but others inspired me to write haiku.

Heads up, dog coming

Grazing geese splashdown

Safe on Hills Pond

Taped to the arm of

A Menotomy Rock’s bench,

Mother’s Day balloon

Warm fall evening

Water tower lantern lit

People drawn like flies

You can see more images of this water tower event, and read about it here.