Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Walk with Sarah James to Dyer Pond

Today I finished This Organic Life, which I read mostly because I had heard Barbara Kingsolver liked the book so much she got to know its author. This Organic Life now sits on our new environmental shelf next to The Natural Step for Communities by Sarah James and Torbjörn Lahti. Sarah stopped by last weekend and, at my request, signed my copy. Sven and I showed her our walk around the far side of Long Pond. We explored the surroundings of the three pond houses confiscated by the government and agreed it is a shame no one can use them anymore. Sarah exclaimed about how pleasant it was to be able to reach several different ponds without crossing any paved roads. Indeed, we are lucky to live so close to the National Seashore.

Dyer Pond is surely one of the most stunning kettle ponds on Cape Cod. Look at how clear the water is. Kettle ponds are not lakes. They must be treated with respect. No soap, no pets, no young bathers who have not finished toilet-training. Unfortunately, all National Seashore guests do not obey these simple rules.

To our distress, Dyer Pond was profiled three years ago by a New York Times travel writer who called it, “the most beautiful, the most hidden, the most serene.” I’m afraid this description no longer applies. New Yorkers in search of summer serenity have been hiking through the woods ever since.

One of the downsides of increased tourism is pond overuse and bank erosion. The Department of the Interior has attempted to limit the erosion with signs and a clearly delineated path down to the beach. In the seventies, when I took this photo, each bather would descend the southern bank from a different angle. There were several little beaches then. Now a fence keeps pedestrians off the bank, and everyone congregates in the same spot. The pond is still serene, but it has lost its "secret" quality.

It was a brisk, bright day when we went walking with Sarah James. She took real pleasure at the discovery of what was for her virgin territory. It’s true that people who walk tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to itinerary. The senses participate more fully if you don’t know where you are going.

Back at Chez Sven, we said goodbye and Sarah left for a conference in Stockholm. Her company specializes in town/city planning that is oriented toward the goal of sustainability. We met years ago when she brought a group of Harvard graduate students to Wellfleet as part of a town planning seminar. Sarah is a woman who practices what she preaches. She drives, of course, a Prius!