Considering Quannapowitt and Ell Pond

 ... Photo team pokes its nose into neighboring town

The Stringer Photo Team

The SilverStringer Photo Team offers, this month, an inside, close-up peek at Lake Quannapowitt, and the Wakefield folks that can be seen around its shores most any time of the day. We shot pictures of the pond and the people, expanding our interest beyond Melrose borders -- least we be accused of being provincial. We now offer this common-knowledge comparison of the two places -- Wakefield's Quannapowitt and Melrose's Ell Pond -- complete with linked photographs.

Obviously our photos show more drama when displayed in near-original size, so we have linked those in this story to larger versions. Just click on any picture and you will be delivered to the larger size. To return to the story, just click "Back".

Map courtesy of the Wakefield Daily Item.

Quannapowitt and Ell Pond:
Melrose has a small, lovely pond in its valley, it is a nice place, and the town cares for it.

Wakefield, our neightbor to the north, has its own pond, Quannapowitt, which is perhaps twice as large as our Ell. Swimming is not encouraged in either of these waters, but Wakefield does maintain a beach of sorts.

Left: The old guy is aware of the passing scenery. Photo by Shirley Rabb.
Middle: Is that the Melrose Free Press he's reading? From Don Norris.
Right: Lying in the sun, the park is a nice place to read a book or do your homework. Louise Fennell.

Quannapowitt serves a broader purpose for Wakefield, than Ell Pond does in Melrose. Their pond is a center of activity, with a large park (similar to ours) at the south end that includes a large, ornate climbing playground for youngsters. But unlike Melrose, Wakefield people have made an exercise course around Quannapowitt, a nice paved walkway of just about three miles.

And you will see dozens of walkers and runners, summer or winter, daytime or evening. It is a popular place to jog, walk fast, amble, saunter, ride a bike (there is a bike path part-way round, on the paved road) -- and (most important) to socialize.

Left: Concensus: He's taking his dog to the Gingerbread Construction Company at the head of the lake. Shirley Rabb.
Middle: Playtime at Lake Quannapowitt. Louise Fennell.
Right: A Stringer gathers her flock. Don Norris.

The problem both communities have deals with the federal regulations concerning waterfowl. Canada geese are protected. And they collect where innocent towns provide a feeding ground of fresh, green grass.

The geese, in turn, fertilize that green grass. In fact, they over-fertilize. Actually they make a mess of the place. Just try to drop a nice clean lawn blanket on the park lawn in Wakefield, or Melrose, or any other town in greater Boston -- for these Canada geese are huge, they eat constantly, and they fertilize like mad.

Left:This bright child developed the skill of geese herding in 17 minutes. Don Norris.
Middle: A covey of people pass, replaced by a gaggle of geese. Elizabeth Sunkees.
Right: Just relaxing. Louise Fennell.

Nevertheless, Wakefield's Quannapowitt is a lovely place and is heavily supported by area runners and walkers. There are two major parks, one at each end of the mile-long lake; the old restaurant at the head of the lake, which ran into bad times frequently over the years, was taken by the town and replaced with lovely green grass.

Melrose's Ell Pond, however, has housing that borders the pond for about half its perimeter -- which makes the shoreline inaccessible there. There is a lovely trail around the other half, but a perimeter walk around the Ell includes a mile of street walking.

Left: Yesteryear's Wakefield taxi. Shirley Rabb.
Middle: Optical illusion. Big people, miniature cars. Shirley Rabb.
Right: Sentinel on watch duty. Elizabeth Sunkees.

Actually Wakefield has a similar situation -- their path follows North Avenue for the better part of a mile, before it cuts into what was the former American Mutual office complex at the north end. But then, Wakefielders don't seem to mind street walking for a third of their three-mile program.

The purity of Ell Pond (or lack of it) is getting better, but the pond is a collecting basin in the Melrose valley for a lot of street drainage. It is not deep these days; one starts swimming through heavy silt only a few feet down.

Left: The beauty and wonder of three. Elizabeth Sunkees.
Middle: Lonesome George, for we knew not his name. Louise Fennell.
Right: Variations on a green theme. Don Norris.

Quannapowitt, on the other hand, is the source for the Saugus River, and only 400 years ago supplied the waterpower for the new iron smelter in Saugus. And apparently the drainage system in Wakefield is better than Melrose's, for their pond appears to be more stable. It is not clear, pristine water; it is somewhat musty, at best.

The Wakefield people have one thing sorely lacking in Melrose: a yatch club, off North Avenue. Power boats are not allowed, and the most popular vehicles on the lake these days are the one-person sailboards. Practically no one boats on Ell Pond, except one embankment resident who has a funny pedalboat. One or two families launch a canoe, once in a while.

Left: Can anyone hear the bark of a tree? Louise Fennell.
Middle: When one tires of eating, one goes for a swim. Shirley Rabb.
Right: Anyone seen a cat for these tails? Shirley Rabb.

All in all, both Melrose and Wakefield are fortunate to have inherited such kettle ponds, donated by a passing ice age. In Melrose, we residents try to treat our pond well, but we aren't about to foot the bill for a total rebuild of the municipal sewer and dainage system. And that'a about what it would take to make Ell Pond a pristine place.

Left: Wakefield's picturesque skyline and common. Louise Fennell.
Middle: That's got to be some nail-biting story. Shirley Rabb.
Right: Lorry Norris's first published pix with her new Nikon. Excellent composition. Lorry Norris.

The SilverStringer Photo Team includes Elizabeth Sunkees, Natalie Thomson, Lorry Norris, Shirley Rabb, Don Norris and Boss Louise Fennell. Other Stringers join us on occasion; it is a casual group and our membership remains open. We generally go out once a week, and have been known to shoot in the rain and snow.

Left: It was a berry nice day. Shirley Rabb.
Middle: Creepy, crawly, hairy yellow thing ... Don Norris.
Right: Either a stump or a mortar left over from colonial times. Elizabeth Sunkees.

September 5, 2003

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