Monday, October 15, 2007

Return of the Waterfall

"As we lay awake long before daybreak, listening to the rippling of the river, and the rustling of the leaves, in suspense whether the wind blew up or down the stream, was favorable or unfavorable to our voyage, we already suspected that there was a change in the weather, from a freshness as of autumn in these sounds. The wind in the woods sounded like an incessant waterfall dashing and roaring amid rocks, and we even felt encouraged by the unusual activity of the elements. He who hears the rippling of rivers in these degenerate days will not utterly despair. That night was the turning-point in the season. We had gone to bed in summer, and we awoke in autumn; for summer passes into autumn in some unimaginable point of time, like the turning of a leaf."
Henry Thoreau, “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers”

After many, many “degenerate days” with an overloaded filtration system and an exhausted ultraviolet light filter, our pond was murky and opaque. While the fish are perfectly happy with the algae, we could hardly see them. Besides, the rock where the waterfall flows was choked with algae. Algae was so thick on the big rock that the local bees were farming it for protein.

The pond lady who replaced the UV light and the biomaterial in the filter said that most of our neighbors with “water features” in their yard insist on adding chlorine to keep the water pretty. Chlorine is poison to our neighbors the birds and bees (and, incidentally, to us). Because we use filtration and UV light to manage algae instead of poison, the residents of the canyon – those that can fly over the fence anyway – prefer to drink from our pond, and to bathe in our waterfall.

Replacing the biomaterial in the filter and replacing the UV light has done wonders. Our waterfall is back, and we can now see the fish. The bees, discouraged by the decrease in algae as well as the cooler nights, have mostly moved away.

And best of all, when I awake in the mornings, I can once again hear the waterfall – perhaps not as incessant or roaring as Thoreau’s rivers – but sufficient in these degenerate days to ward off utter despair.

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