Gone Now But Will Be Back

by Curt Kovener

While there was sufficient ice on the pond we used the seasonal hard water to aid in our invasive plant reduction efforts.
Way back in the day the Indiana DNR provided wildlife planting packets to benefit birds and add beauty to the forest edges.
One of the plants, provided by the state was Autumn Olive. In the summer there are sweet smelling white blossoms that attract bees and pollinators of all sorts. Sitting on the dock you can hear them buzzing about. Then late summer small fruit covers the plants and the birds have a feast through fall.
The problem is that after dining and defecating, the autumn olive seed now with attached fertilizer germinates…all over the place.
This is not a problem if the bird poops where we usually mow. The summer mowing controls and kills the unwanted invasive. But plants sprout and grow at the pond’s edge where there is plenty of sun and plenty of water and extremely limited access to mow, weed whack or saw the invasive.
Last month a 7” coating of pond ice was used as a platform to cut out the heretofore inaccessible invasive.
My chainsaw made quick work of the shrub and a stump spray of brush killer should prevent re-spouting this spring.
The difficult part was hauling the now cut autumn olive branches, some upwards of 3” in diameter, across the slippery ice onto the dock then pulled up the steps to the Gator for transport to the burn pile.
I enjoy outdoor work. But the winter sedentary habit I seasonally fall into doesn’t care for the sudden exercise. My knees, back and muscles rebelled loudly that evening.
An un-iced adult beverage help numb my pain and aided sleep to come.
The ice is pretty much off the pond in the wilderness now and we are grateful.
Grateful for the warmer (but no doubt temporary) weather. And grateful that an ice breaking rescue did not have to be implemented for Emma the 100-pound Great Pyrenees.
Pyrenees are livestock protection dogs and she considers her humans her livestock and thus all noises, real and imagined, are considered threats. Threats are answered by lots of loud barking and a run to investigate. The ice on the pond she considered a short cut for her protection territory obligation.
That wasn’t a problem when the thermometer was in the single digits and teens. But as temperatures warmed making thinner ice, we worried about an unexpected bath in the pond for Emma and how to pull her from the icy water.
I was conflicted by old sayings: “Be prepared,” I recall as the Boy Scout motto and “Worry is the interest you pay on a debt that is not yet due.”
So it seems our motto of the Wilderness is “Be prepared to worry.” Which may be sound advice for all Americans these days.