Sunset on a Snowy Winter Day

Well, I just arrived back at the house after a nice long run to be witness to the most beautiful sunset.  Thomas Kinkade eat your heart out.

Snowy Sunset on Red Mill Pond
Snowy Sunset on Red Mill Pond

I ran down to the waters edge, giddy with excitement, to snap this photo. You see the light changes extremely fast at sunset and you only have seconds to get your shot off. You can see the pond is half frozen – half liquid. There are Swans paddling around in the melted areas. They look so beautiful – so majestic – especially as twilight approaches. And I can hear them calling to each other – their voices echoing across the water. And then a massive flock of geese came in from the northwest – landing on the north end of the pond.

It’s a times like these I am so very happy that we were able to save the pond…

Beautiful Winter Day on Red Mill Pond

It started snowing late last night and continued all morning.  It’s beginning to taper off now and the sun occasionally breaks through the murk overhead.  There is still a dark and looming overcast.  I can’t help but wonder what the clouds look like from on top.  They are so full of snow, they must look like some kind of brilliant white fluffy blanket.

Fresh Snow on Red Mill Pond
Fresh Snow on Red Mill Pond

The temperature has been hovering just below freezing for days.  And the pond appears patchy now because while the surface is frozen, some areas are not able to maintain the fresh snow on top (due to melting).

Although you can’t see it in the picture, there is a large group of geese hanging-out in the middle of the pond just to the north.  They always seem to have a sixth sense for when the river is going to open-up again and give them their pond back!  Even if the opening is only the size of a bath tub, they will take turns swimming in it.  It is the most adorable thing to watch…

City of Tecumseh Sign

Here is the last of the canoe trip.  This “City of Tecumseh” sign sticks out of the pond on the northern end.  It reminds people they are still within the city limits and fire arms are not permitted.  It’s possible they’re shooting on the Tecumseh Township side, which is further north however, I have found shotgun shells in the woods – clearly within the city limits.  I often hear gunfire around this area, which makes me super sad because it makes the “locals” very skiddish.

City of Tecumseh Sign - Red Mill Pond
City of Tecumseh Sign – Red Mill Pond

At the very northern end of the pond, there is the Southern Michigan Railroad company’s railroad trestle.  Here’s a picture of the bridge below.  After this picture, we had to make a dash for home since there was no moon, and the darkening twighlight soon dropped us into a dark, inky night.

Southern Michigan Railroad Trestle - Red Mill Pond
Southern Michigan Railroad Trestle – Red Mill Pond

Abandoned Chair

Here is another photograph from our canoe trip.  As you can see, the light is beginning to fade as the sun has already dipped below the horizon.  We found this chair sitting partially submerged on a small island on the north end of the pond.

Abandoned Chair - Red Mill Pond
Abandoned Chair – Red Mill Pond

The water level is slightly higher than normal.

I am hoping that someone put the chair here for bird watching – not dumping; but the latter is probably more likely.

A Front Comes Through

The evening before last, a large front came through.  It rained and stormed through the night – not violently but steadily and evenly with purpose.  And the next morning the rain stopped, and the wind blew.  A majestic grey sky dominated the heavens.  Massive clouds, these tall ships with all sail set, forced their way from the south, scraping far above them, threatening all below – but, for naught!  For all their bluster, by noon all was calm.

September 26, 2016 - A Front Comes Through
September 26, 2016 – A Front Comes Through

A neat line of puffy cumulus clouds rowed by as if nothing ever happened.  By mid-afternoon – nothing but clear blue sky.  And by evening, the purity of the lone setting sunset, with the tiniest spec of a cloud in the sky as a long distant reminder of things…

Pond Scum (Algae Bloom) Still in Effect

Sadly, I have been watching this all summer long.  There has been no respite from algae bloom after algae bloom after algae bloom.  The pond is just choking in the stuff!  I haven’t posted any pictures in awhile because it’s so bad.  Take a look at this one:


It is absolutely disgusting.  It sticks to your canoe or kayak.  It smells horrible.  It covers everything and it’s everywhere except for the very center of the pond where the river runs its fastest.

The other day, I observed some of this goop being formed.  I always assumed that algae starts its life on top of the water.  So it came as a complete surprise when I saw a large dollop of the stuff suddenly “bloop” up to the surface.  I saw the whole thing happen.  I could see a heavy dark mossy clump adhering to some pebbles on the bottom of the pond.  Apparently buoyancy must have taken over because it suddenly detached itself and bobbed up to the surface.  Once on top of the water, its sides drooped down and I could see long tendrils or roots extending from its underbelly.  It reminded me of a jellyfish!  I witnessed this process repeat itself several times.

I am now of the opinion that most of this stuff grows on the bottom of the pond in the shallow areas where excess nutrients from runoff and fertilizer coalesce.  Once these clumps start floating, more algae grows on top of them.  They can even join together to make a large “skin.”  Furthermore, these rafts can get so big and thick that they support leaves, twigs, feathers and all kinds of debris – truly disturbing.

I just wish there was something we could do about it.

Rain Finally Comes!

The ground has been parched for many weeks.  And the pond has stilled with little fresh water coming from upriver.  Local farmers are getting nervous, saying they’re absolutely desperate for rain.  The Tecumseh Herald ran this article on July 23rd:  Drought worsens, Lenawee County at ‘severe drought’ level.

Well, this evening it rained steadily for over two hours.  Who would have thought you could get so excited to see it rain? But I ran outside and jumped up and down and danced around like a lunatic.  I am so happy!

Rain glorious rain - Red Mill Pond - July 30, 2016
Rain glorious rain – Red Mill Pond – July 30, 2016

I sprinted down to the pond to see what’s going on.  It’s amazing what a difference a little rain can make!  I see the river is flowing again.  There’s mist hanging in the air over the pond.  Rain drops explode like little meteors on its surface.  And, the water is clear again, well there’s some turbidity but, storms will do that.  The important thing is, the algae bloom has been washed away downstream (sorry Lake Erie) and the pond is alive.

And as if on command, I see a carp swimming cheerfully by, along the water’s edge.  He spots me and darts away with a flick of his tail, kicking up a cloud of sediment behind him.  Wonderful!

Hopefully, we can get some more of this lovely wet soggy rain over the next few days.

Algae Bloom Suffocates

Ugh!  Could it get any worse?  An algea bloom has been suffocating the pond for over two weeks.

Algae bloom suffocates Red Mill Pond - July 28, 2016
A dark sticky mass of ooey, gooey muck encases much of the pond – July 28, 2016

Our community, along with the rest of the Midwest, is experiencing drought again.  There has not been enough rain in recent months to effect a good flow of the River Raisin through the pond.  And this is the result.

Contaminants from unregulated farm runoff and  the application of fertilizers to residential lawns are taking a toll on the river.  The water is stagnant.  And with no movement, everything seems to have come to a halt.  Now it’s not unusual to have an algae bloom or two in the Springtime – after the farmers finish planting and fertilizing and the chem lawn trucks have rolled through the neighborhood.  But usually by this time of the year, everything has washed downstream.  So it is unusual to see the pond in this state of affair so far along in the season.

I watch as a carp breaks through the morass with an overly slow, lethargic motion.  How different it looks now to earlier in the season when they were spawning!  They were swimming around with unbounded enthusiasm – so lively.  The water was clear and you could see hundreds of them racing around the edge of the pond.  Now this?  “Bloop!” the thick soupy water gives way as the fish breaks the surface – green slime adheres to his back as he pushes through the filth.  I wonder how can the poor creature even breathe in this muck?