Monday, May 4, 2009


It happened last night and it’s happening this morning. Due to a special combination of low clouds, high waves, and just the right amount of a light breeze and I can hear the slight rumble of the surf as I walked from my car to my house last night. Sometimes, like this morning, it's like gentle hypnotic sound of a gentle sound of the surf on the beach. Both are a very soothing and magical sound. Nobody believes me until they hear this remarkable, soothing sound. It lets me know I'm close to the edge of the continent.

For years I gave garden water features a bad rap as we live in a dry summer area. I didn’t think is was acceptable to waste water to evaporation. But I finally gave in and I’m glad I did. The sound of the water falling one foot into the small (three feet by four feet) pool makes a delightful sound. I can sit in my writer’s office and hear the soothing trickle of the water and watch the dragonflies flutter about. The waterfall makes a mellow, soothing background sound during barbecues and offers the psychological effect of making the garden seem a bit cooler during heat waves.

There are actually two waterfalls. One is one massive convex stone as the primary water fall into the pool. The other is much smaller and barely visible beneath a huckleberry shrub. In the late summer when fresh water is scarce, the birds and deer begin to arrive. It took a handful of years before they found such a tiny water spot among all the trees. Some of the birds are brave enough to sit in the open by the water’s edge to drink and bath—our Stella blue jays are an example. The Stella blue jays nestle along the edges of the pond drinking and washing. The wrens will stand on the lily pads and wallow in the water and fly up to a metal roost I placed near the pool to shake off the water as a dog does after a good swim. Other birds, like the __ and the__ are very shy and only bath and drink water from the first, secluded waterfall. They are harder to spot and I must remain very still for quite awhile before they show up. All the bustling of the birds as they bath there bellies in the cool flowing water has provided countless hours of amusement and satisfaction.

Other critters use the pond. After about five years, an orange-colored salamander found the pool as a nice home. I can’t imagine how it knew the water was there and how it arrived. My pool is too small for the herons to find it and has vertical sides they wouldn’t be able to stand in it—in larger ponds they often bring the eggs, water plants and seeds of one pond to another in their feet.

Come late August or mid-September water is scarce enough that the deer slowly, with much trepidation, come for a drink. One day while napping, I heard an enormous splash. I looked out from my second-story window to see a fawn thrashing away. It had walked into the “pond” not knowing what water pools were like. Before I could race down the stairs for a rescue, she had managed to clamber out of the water in spite of her terror. The other fawn watched this and approached the water with much caution, but did manage to take a drink.

Other critters are not so pleasing. I’ve had catfish, croppy and mosquito fish in my pond over the years. All have been eaten by the raccoons. I made the sides vertical with no ledges as a way to thwart these premier scavengers—to no avail. I think they must scare the fish by thrashing the water until they can scoop them up with their nimble paws. I’m amazed they could catch the tiny mosquito fish, but I haven’t seen them (nor mosquitoes), for several years.

In the end how does the elusive, distant sound of the pounding surf and the pale sound of the foghorn transform my garden? With a new level of peace and tranquilly. An occasional smoothing sound that preceded the building of my little pond continues to provide a respite from a busy day during the evening and night when my little water fall isn’t on. Far more subtle, but just as cherished as the water fall.

Please post a comment - I want to know what you think.

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