According to Don Mattheisen’s Menotomy Rocks Park; A Centennial History, this woodland park in the midst of a dense grid of small yards in Arlington, Massachusetts, USA was once called “Devils Den.” Transforming its tangled woods with looming granite outcrops and a swamp into a usable park took 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.
It was particularly colorful there last October when I started capturing what I noticed there as the seasons changed. It seemed like the ducks had begun to follow me as I walked around the pond. But as the winter’s snow compacted to ice on the paths, only a few ducks remained. In early spring, turtles clustered on a rock jutting out from a wetland area by the side of the pond. Two swans probed for tender new shoots and a pair of Canada geese acted as if this pond was their personal resort. A muskrat swam over to hide in plain view under foliage by the water’s edge and a bull frog’s loud call startled a dog walking by with its owner.
By late May, the robins and red wing blackbirds were as plentiful as ever, but there was only a single duck to be seen, sleeping atop a boulder. Perhaps the others had left to raise their young in a safer place away from dogs and snapping turtles. Then I saw a notice – fish had died and water testing had been requested. As if to ensure I had gotten the message, I saw a squirrel lying by the side of the road next to a rock as I left the park. It was still breathing. I spoke to it in gentle tones wishing it (and all of us) well.
Threats to the natural environment are ever more apparent, and I will continue adding updates to this post if I notice other signs of trouble in Menotomy Rocks Park that are worth sharing.