The state was very fair, and the men who negotiated with us were very decent people just doing their job. I did not envy them their job at all, because emotions were running high among homeowners and business owners along the highway. We were, of course, very unhappy with the proposed project and I suppose we told them how we were feeling.
As the work was drawing to a close in front of our house, one of the men came by with a bundle of trees -- bald cypress seedlings -- as a way of apologizing. That he would do this was something of a surprise (sort of shot down our idea of the heartless bureaucrat, etc. etc.) but bringing these particular trees was also something of a surprise. True, they are native to the swampy areas of southeast Missouri down in the Bootheel, but this isn't exactly southeast Missouri and it is not a particularly swampy area. One just doesn't tend to think of bald cypress as a typical tree to plant in the yard.
So, I planted two of the small trees by the pond then promptly forgot about them. I planted the rest of them in a line along the runoff at the base of the bank below the highway. A lot of water flows along there when it rains, and pools form that last quite a while, and the soil seems to be damp most of the time. They liked it there and began growing quite nicely, but that was short lived. The state came through about 3 years later in an attempt to reign in the forest of mimosa trees that had sprung up and cut the bald cypress down along with the others. The bald cypress resprouted, but I suspect the state will come back in another year two and clear them out, yet again.
In the meantime, life moved on and we stopped going out to the pond altogether because there just didn't seem to be any reason to go out there, and then it became so brushy and overgrown that we lost the path.
Then the electric co-op had a crew clear under the power lines that run from our pole to parts unknown...
and Richard built a bridge across the wet weather spring,
and so we once again had the potential to access the pond. Late last winter, to give our son something do to, we put him to work clearing a new path out to the pond, which he did.
On a beautiful afternoon a week or so ago, I took a lawn chair and walked out there to see what I could see. I was hoping to get a glimpse of one of the soft-shelled turtles that our son says he has seen. I sat myself down and spent some time watching a myriad of silvery beetles swimming on top of the pond in random circular patterns, hundreds of them making spectacular patterns and ripples in the water...
and bright orange dragonflies zipping everywhere. I did not see the soft-shelled turtle.
Then I happened to look to my left and got something of a surprise...
The two bald cypress trees I had planted at the edge of the pond were thriving, and one kept tapping me on the shoulder,
wanting to tell me how happy it was to be living there.
When I discovered a new plant, I sat down beside it for a minute or a day, to make its acquaintance and hear what it had to tell me. -- John Muir