I noticed the pond beside the highway the first time we drove through
the Ozarks. I thought rainwater had drained into the low spot of
a pasture. But years later, after I moved to Missouri, I decided
it wasnt run off.
pond looks like a small-scale model of a swamp. Large trees, native
to marshy areas, grow in it. Fallen trees stretch across the algae-covered
water. Is it some farmers pond gone stagnant? Or is it a creek
that was dammed up when the road was built?
Somebody ought to clean that up, my eighty-five-year-old
father-in-law commented. He was born and raised in the Ozarks.
When I took the Master Naturalist class, I learned about sinkhole
ponds. They are caused when a cave collapses. Aquatic plants in
a sinkhole pond are diverse. One source I read labels them foreign
flora, relic species from the geologic past. Thats a good
thing! Is that swampy pool a sinkhole pond? If so, its not
as significant as Cupola Pond, which is on the National Register
of Natural Landmarks and home to the Tupelo Gum Tree. But sinkhole
ponds are common in this rugged hill country.
the old man said, Somebody ought to clean that up, I
hadnt bothered to argue a reason for not draining a body of
water teeming with life. I believed that his way of thinking would
die off in this new century. Im still hopeful that it will,
but my confidence is shaken when I watch people bush-hog their property
and complain about the sprouts of persimmon and pine and oak that
mar their lawns and bust up their asphalt driveways.
Somebody ought to clean that up. Will such an attitude
lead again to the clear-cutting of the Missouri Ozarks, a landscape
that some conservationists have called a hot spot of biodiversity?
Not if I can convince them otherwise!
-Sheila Wood Foard
Master Naturalist, 04