“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.
~Henry David Thoreau
This story most appropriately is being told the week of Thoreau’s birthday. (He was born July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts.) Somehow I don’t think it’s a stretch to think he would approve.
So, what, you might be thinking, is that blue photo above? It is, my dearest readers, a Pond Skater. Yes, it is. He appeared some three weeks ago in the middle of the doggie wading pool. Normally that pool is being used thusly:
But with the sudden inexplicable and surprise visit of a pond skater, most doggie activity was curtailed, short of Conner’s occasional slurping of cold water, while I stood by making sure he didn’t drink down Mr. Pond Skater.
Honestly, I was completely bewildered how this tiny creature arrived in the middle of a backyard into a wading pool. Utterly flummoxed. I will never understand how that happened. A surveying of the closest body of water, a creek, offered no answers. None. Bone dry. Truly not a drop of water to explain this appearance. Oh, the need is clear. But the deliverance? I never saw one indication this little bug could fly. So?
The Zen of it was here he was. And being wired as Keen Nature Observer/Her Eye is on the Sparrow/Strong Mother Archetype, I felt kind of honored he’d arrived here, and I felt it was the least I could do to learn what I could and see to his well being. Wouldn’t you? Maybe not.
The first big task arose after a few days when I discovered teeny squiggly things in the water. Thinking first they might be a source of food I was relieved, but shortly realized they were mosquito larvae. Yikes. This entailed going out in the early morning, scooping up the Pond Skater into a big bowl, and setting him aside while I emptied the water into the adjacent garden. Nice. I’ve just refreshed the entire wading pool for a bug.
Next challenge was to be sure he had some food. At first I labored over this, thinking of the cabbage whites that flittered about, whom I’d just paid homage to in my Butterfly Journal post, and was not keen on offering one up to a pond bug. But no sooner had I thought it than a small one seemed to succumb in the wading pool. And that was that. A hover bee followed. I honestly wanted to rescue the hover bee, as I did see him fall in the drink, but before I had long to contemplate the Pond Skater rushed headlong over the water to the poor hover bee and within seconds it was still. I’d read about those pinchers. In the mornings that followed it was not too hard to find an occasional cucumber beetle in the roses or an earwig under a pot to offer to him. But how long is this going on? Hmmm.
Each morning when I went out to throw a ball for the Border Collies, I’d check on the Pond Skater, and he remained happily skating about. I even put a chair next to the wading pool so he’d have some respite from the hot afternoon sun.
But, alongside my generosity and respect and interest grew a voice that said, “Really? A pet bug? Maybe you should take him somewhere.” Where?
Gently immersing the bucket into the water, I tipped it ever so slowly and out he swam into his huge new home. Wow. As I watched him make his way into the current my attention was immediately taken by three ducks who noticed me at water’s edge. Uh-oh. Maybe I should have thought this through.
I am suddenly realizing that these ducks are all conditioned to think that anyone along the water must be there to feed them. No! No! Go back. By now I cannot see the Pond Skater and have to imagine he’s safely well beyond this group of hungry ducks. Or these, now also wondering what’s afoot. Here they come!
At a certain point after one has done one’s best it is time to let go. Here is where I have left Pond Skater. This is his new home. If he becomes dinner for a duck or fish or bird I will console myself that Pond Skaters have been on the planet Earth for 55 MILLION years. They know what they are doing.
Pond Skater is somewhere out there.
I drive home reflecting on the immediacy of Pond Skater’s reality. He did not enter the large body of water fearful or even processing. He simply accepted what was and responded accordingly. A lesson that would not have escaped the observation of Mr. Henry David Thoreau.
Love and creature blessings,
Footnote: Julie’s comment below regarding what Pond Skaters are called in Ohio (water striders) had me googling Pond Skater to discover his other names, which included water bugs, magic bugs, pond skaters, skaters, skimmers, water scooters, water skaters, water skeeters, water skimmers, water skippers, water spiders, or Jesus bugs! Why, I asked myself, would they be called Jesus bugs? Dawning on me: because they can walk on water!
Book Notes: If you have enjoyed this post you might want to consider purchasing a copy of Kathryn’s book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy, available on Amazon as a Kindle edition or as a Real Book found at Estrella Catarina. Thank you.
Posted on July 18th, 2011 by Kathryn
Filed under: Animals