vernal pond

The site of a vernal pond (vernal means “spring”) is an arena of change. Also known as ephemeral wetlands, vernal ponds form wherever water stands for a minimum of two months, the period needed to form their ecosystem: varieties of frogs, salamanders, and fairy shrimp, all protected from their usual predators, fish (none in a vernal pond), feed on smaller creatures such as phantom midges, copepods, mayflies, and water striders. In the poem “Vernal Sentiment,” Theodore Roethke includes a vernal pond in a lighthearted celebration: “Though the crocuses poke up their heads in the usual places,/The frog scum appears on the pond with the same froth of green,/And boys moon at girls with last year’s fatuous faces,/I never am bored, however familiar the scene.” So should none be at a vernal pond.

Larry Woiwode