Pond Dig, part two

More on my adventures in digging a small pond! Yesterday I finished digging the first layer of the pond, down to the level of the planting shelf, about 1 foot. I checked whether it was fairly level after I was done. And then I did some math to figure out what 1/2 to 1/3 of the total surface area would be, which is the best size for the planting shelves.

For those who might wonder, here is how I worked on that: Using a website that computes circle area, I found that for my 11′ by 11.5′ pond, the total surface area was about 100 square feet. If I made a planting shelf one foot deep, the resulting circle would be 9′ by 9.5′, with a surface area of 67 square feet, meaning the planting shelf included 33 square feet. I was surprised that just 1 foot at the edge already brought it to 1/3 of the area. Doing two feet would leave a circle of 7′ by 7.5′, or 41 square feet, with 59 square feet for planting. So I took half of that, and decided to do 1 foot wide on one half, with 2 feet wide on the other half, approximately. Even though the math is exact, the actual pond will be less so, but it gave me an idea of what I was aiming for. I marked it out with white flour, including a spot for a step, that would be dug to 1 more foot down, to make it easier to get in and out of the pond center.

Pond layer one, with my rough markings for planting shelves and a step

Meanwhile, I’ve heard back from folks who have bits and pieces of carpet–I had asked for at least 2 feet wide, and the responses have ranged from 2′ by 2′, to a medium size carpet. I picked up some yesterday, and will do more today. It has been fun to have these interactions with folks, limited as they are–so rare for me in a time of COVID. Since I don’t have a truck, the smaller pieces actually work because they fit in the back of my car.

Meanwhile, the pond liner was delivered yesterday too! A very heavy box was dropped in our driveway by UPS. (I think I remember that it was going to be 138 pounds) Unable to lift it myself, or even together with Margy, she had the idea to roll it onto a larger piece of cardboard (which we always have in our garage for various garden projects) and then we could pull that cardboard together along the driveway to a better spot–and it worked. So it is waiting by the side of our house. It made me realize, though, that when I actually install the liner in the pond, I will definitely need help from a few friends.

Four years ago, the pond was part of our original plan for our permablitz–when twenty-some people came by and helped us with all manner of garden projects. (If you are curious about that, you can find more here.) It was such a humbling and gratifying experience to be gifted with the energy of so many to begin to create this permaculture garden where we live. With everything else going on that day, it was decided that the pond would be too much to attempt. But it is wonderful to remember how community enables us to live better with our land, how the gift of each other’s time and energy enriches all who participate. With COVID we’ve been on our own so much, and yet even so, we rely on the help of others–delivery people, for example, and neighbors who have picked up needed items in stores. It has brought us closer together with our neighbors actually. We are so programmed by our society to try to be self-sufficient. It is hard to be reminded of our need for each other–and yet that need is a blessing.

Meanwhile, it was also a blessing to be digging on my own, outside in a beautiful sunny day. Squirrels were playing, birds singing, daffodils shining bright yellow, and the cherry and peach trees are beginning to blossom. I started on the next layer of the pond. Our soil is very sandy and compacted–we had an inch of rain fall on Friday, and none of it stayed in the depression that I had already dug. So the recommendation is to slope the sides as we go down so it doesn’t collapse. Step by step, and with a little help, I think it can be done.

Digging begun on second level.

Future Fruit Trees

Wood chips JackWood chips LizThanks to help from Margy’s sister Liz and brother-in-law, Jack, we were able to spread wood chips over a part of our yard that we are envisioning for future fruit trees.  The soil in the yard is quite compacted, and we have a big pile of wood chips from the old maple tree that was cut down last year.  Lisa Fernandes of Resilience Hub had suggested that the best easy way to start improving the soil for growing trees was to spread wood chips now so they can percolate over the winter, and help the soil to develop fungal infrastructure.

It seemed like a huge job, and Margy and I hadn’t been able to start it on our own.  But when Liz and Jack came to visit for the weekend, they offered to help with a project.  Margy immediately thought of the wood chips.  The three of them began on Saturday afternoon, and then we all worked on Sunday afternoon to expand it and finish it.  Margy coordinated our efforts and documented it with these photos.

We had a wonderful visit, and this morning I feel so happy looking at the space that is no longer raggedy lawn, but imagined and hoped for cherries, apples and peaches, imbued with the spirit of the old maple, and the loving hands of family.dsc06784

 

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Boxes

IMG_0774Our house is filling up with boxes and more boxes, as another helper (Thank you!) came today, and we packed and packed.  Then, she left a lovely dinner that I could heat up in the oven. Yum!

Tomorrow, there are a few more helpers coming over to do more packing. Love all these recycled boxes from the people who moved before we did–who are also among the helpers. (Thank you!)  One step after the other, and then resting in between.

Dinner!

Dinner!

 

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Ready for tomorrow.

Helpers!

Our moving date is Feb 26.  Yesterday we began packing in earnest.  I rarely take the Monday holidays off work, but I was able to this time. Surveying the situation felt overwhelming, until two wonderful helpers came over and started putting books and record albums into boxes.Empty bookcase

Their energy gave us energy, and between the four of us, we packed over 35 boxes!  Today I am back to ministry work, but next week I will be taking unused vacation days from February 23rd to March 2nd in order to do the final packing push.  Other folks have offered to help us during the three day packing spree before the movers arrive.

This help is such a marvelous thing!  There are so many moments when we feel overwhelmed by the weight of all we have to box up and carry to a new home.  We did a fair amount of sorting and recycling and giving away, but at a certain point–and I think we have reached it–we just have to put things in boxes and not worry about the de-cluttering project until we arrive at our new place. We will have a few weeks overlap, so we can leave some things here that we want to go through more carefully, or give away.

Painted closetMeanwhile, at the new place, Margy has been painting the closets and cupboards, so that they’ll be ready for us to fill with our clothes and dishes. (She took this picture after her work on one closet.)

AND we still have more radon mitigation work to do in our old basement.  The tests came back too high, so we renegotiated with the buyers, and we are paying an air quality company to come this week to expand the current radon mitigation system.

Our realtor also made an important discovery. Our boiler has a barometric damper, and he noticed it was in the wide open position, even when the boiler wasn’t running. This means it would have been constantly drawing air from the basement up into the chimney, creating negative pressure that could literally be sucking radon into the space.  He also noticed that the weights were positioned incorrectly for the type of damper, so we shifted the weights, and adjusted them so that it closes when the furnace is off and opens a small amount when it is on. At some point, we may have someone come out to calibrate it more exactly, but for now, we hope this will help with radon mitigation. We have heard that the buyers are planning to replace the heating system, so it doesn’t make sense to put a lot into it now. It is a bit of a catch-22.  If we can’t get the radon levels down to acceptable numbers, the sale of the house won’t go through.  So, fingers crossed.

A colleague who has moved a lot suggested I might think of moving as a spiritual practice. There are so many ways that this makes sense.  There is so much outside of our control.  And yet there is so much work that we have to do to make it happen.  This balancing act between vulnerability and effort is such a metaphor for all of what is important in life.

I come back to Gratitude for the helpers who enter our lives, and enable us to keep on this journey.  Some of the helpers are those we enlist professionally for a fee.  But most are kindhearted souls who we are privileged to know, who make such a difference.