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 in Arlington, Massachusetts, USA 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.

It was particularly colorful last October when I started capturing what I saw happening through the seasons. Some ducks began to follow me as I walked around the pond on my daily visits. Only a few stayed through the winter as the paths became slick with compacted snow. After the pond ice thawed, turtles clustered on a rounded rock jutting out from a wetland area. Two swans probed for tender shoots for a few days, and a pair of Canada geese acted as if the pond was their own private resort. A muskrat swam over to hide in plain view under foliage at the water’s edge. A bull frog’s loud voice startled a dog walking with its owner around the pond.

In late May, robins and red wing blackbirds were as plentiful as ever, but only a single duck slept atop a boulder and I wondered if the other ducks had left to raise their ducklings away from dogs and snapping turtles. I saw other animals in the park but not in the pond water. 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 the larger threat we all face, 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 in gentle tones wishing it (and all of us) well.

The effects of human activity and climate change on the natural environment are ever more apparent these days, and I will continue adding updates to this post if I notice any other signs of trouble in this park that are worth sharing.

Only a single duck slept high on a boulder 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
A bullfrog making a rare appearance out in the open on a rock where it can be seen.
A raccoon to left of the tree trunk stared at me while I took its portrait
This park is lucky – people care and have the resources to work at preserving its health. May testing found the water was safe, however later testing in September found toxic algal bloom:
Warning sign posted
Hills pond was treated one year later
Another kind of trouble – rat poison killing owls as well – spring 2022

Author: katzlator

My writing, photography, consulting and workshops aim to inspire engagement with resources for wellbeing.

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