, Newburyport, MA


September 6, 2013

Cheering on work to restore Frog Pond


I have no memory of there having been serious environmental concerns a quarter of a century ago save for the presence of fallen leaves. Freddy Frog was our spiritual leader, and we had no worries for his kind’s future.

Shame on us. We should have had them.

Some years after the restoration, the swans atop the fountain acquired an unfortunate brown coating as a result of their continuous showers of murky pond water.

Frogs did remain, however, and there is no record of which I’m aware of just when the last frog died.

The several considerations of the Mall’s environmental concerns have changed over time.

The first half of my life was lived through the Great Depression, during which the Mall played something of the role of the city’s beauty that the Newburyport waterfront plays today.

I don’t recall that the word “environment” was in much use. The city took care of its properties on the basis of need as needs were then defined.

The downtown riverfront was commercial from one end to the other.

The Mall was a strolling place, especially on weekends.

During the week, Newburyport High School track teams ran along its paths.

Easter Sunday parading was not uncommon. Our annual opening Sundays of Yankee Homecomings on the Mall link us to that time.

It is not surprising that there are those who believe that the pond environment would be improved by permitting banking grasses to grow uncut. Nor am I surprised that there are those who want it cut as usual.

Water, or course, runs downhill and carries whatever’s in the grass with it. Long grass serves as a kindly sieve.

Nor is it surprising that benches have to be cared for on a regular basis, dog walkers really should remove droppings, and feeding visiting air travelers is not to be encouraged.

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