Happy Birthday, Thoreau?

“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?

This morning inspiration moved me to catch him in a bucket, put him in the car, and head out to a nearby lake. Weird, but appropriate. Surely this is better.

Parked near the water’s edge, I walked out to a stone stairway that led directly into the water. Perfect.

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,
Kathryn xoxoxo

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

10 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Thoreau?”

  1. hehehe I think this post is just delightful, mom! How sweet that you discovered Mr Pondskater (where ever could he have come from?) and relocated him. A lovely homage to Thoreau!

    Love you,

  2. Just WOW. While I do not kill spiders and try to put out safely everything that moves in with us, I have never rescued a water strider. Good for you! Hugs, Julie

  3. Hi, Antonia, Yep. Documented his journey. Fun to write. Thanks! Love you, Mom xoxo

  4. Hi, Julie, Oh, thanks for the second name. Water strider. I will google that one. Don’t mean to put out into the Universe that I would not “kill a spider.” I would. And do. Killed a black widow last week, hiding under the lip of my lemon tree pot. Ick. Would never kill a jumping spider or anything cute. But this water strider really captured my imagination. He had to be honored for his own survivor skills. How clever to find a wading pool! Kathryn xoxo

  5. Oh, me…I typed you a note the minute your delightful post arrived in my emailbag this morning, but when I hit Submit, a note said “Page not available”, WHAT?!

    Alas, it was abit of musing on the fact I always find a way to avoid anything creepy or crawley….stated far more eloquently than this, Kathryn.

    However, after reading your piece on saving the life (at least temporarily) of this little floating critter, I will think twice about the fact we BOTH have our rightful place on this planet,

    So you did good…raising an ol lady’s consciousness, one post at a time.


  6. Hi, Marlene, We do, indeed, have our place on the planet. We’ve largely been conditioned to think through anthropocentric lenses, Marlene, not helped by a scripture written in another time, in another language that would lead humans to believe everything is for THEM, rather than, we all share this amazing web of life and are INTERdependent. (What would be be without bees, for example? Lost, is the answer.) Anyway, bugs are difficult to embrace. In looking for bugs for my Pond Skater (aka water strider) I uncovered a Jerusalem cricket (ick) and a centipede (screamed). So, I get it. But the pond skater really captured my imagination and I’m glad he did.
    Hugs. Kathryn xoxo

  7. What a delightful story! It brought back memories of numerous family outings to Samuel P.Taylor Park where the creek was filled with “water skeeters,” as we called them. After your inspiring rescue story, I’ll never take them for granted again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Good morning, Kathlene! Gosh, now I want to go out to Samuel P. Taylor Park and see them en masse! And how wonderful to know what folks who grew up in Marin call these little creatures! Water skeeters! Thanks! Love, Kathryn xoxo

  9. Haha…only you Kathryn would have gone to all that effort to find a Water Skater a new home! Fabulous! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Hi, Liz! Your comment really made me laugh. ๐Ÿ™‚ And now I know that a Pond Skater is a Water Skater in the UK! Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

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