... Cleaning up
Our city is fortunate to have Ell Pond situated within walking distance from the center of town. Benches are provided for those who like a peaceful setting in which to relax and meditate.
The first warm day. The first of May. Hey! It's a poem.
And the weather that day in Melrose, Massachusetts, was pure poetry........ bright sun, balmy breezes, cloudless sky, temperature near seventy. On this day in this year just before the turn of the century, the yellow forsythia had peaked, the jonquils and tulips of every color stood nodding and the cherry trees and azaleas were bursting pink and purple.
The sidewalks along Main Street were filled with mobility. The walkers and joggers and shoppers and bikers and roller skaters and toddlers and baby carriages all headed north or south. Some had earphones, bare legs, bare shoulders and others wore shorts, or sweaters or even raincoats. The tops-down convertibles and potent-sounding motorcycles stopped at each corner red light along with the rest of the Saturday traffic.
Beyond the storefronts and City Hall and the fire station and the churches, across from the hospital and nursing home, the sidewalk that bordered Ell Pond was held back by a wrought iron fence. The path through the lawn on the left was bereft of ducks and geese. The gazebo steps were occupied by a couple of young people in quiet conversation. A woman on one of the benches, looked up from her writing, to greet us as we passed.
On the bank that led to the water, two women were picking up cans and newspapers and broken bottles. Their plastic trash bags were filling fast. We laughed when we discovered that they were both doctors! Jane Desforges and Eda George were joined by State Representative Mike Festa as we got acquainted and snapped photos. He chose the route in among the dried up, cut-down cat-o-nine-tails on the edge of the water at the foot of the high wall. As he whipped out his trash bag, he commissioned me to tell the people on the far side of Main Street how safe (and littered) this particular route was.
As we reached the other band of cleaners, however, they were busy removing a two-wheeled bicycle coated and streaming with wet weeds. John Morris was the "remover" of that large litter and was joined by Mary and David Dickerson.
A father-and-son team, Nick and Bill Beardsley, were busy looking to retrieve other trashed pieces.
Two young women, Sarah Brown and Laura Hand, came over to see what we were photoing. (The next name on my paper is Debbie McVicar, but I can't read the note I made beside her name!) Unfortunately, our film did not last forever.There were others that we were unable to photograph and still other busy souls whom we never did meet.
There were seven or more children climbing over the rocks and descending the stairs of this usually off-limits turf. Howie Kaufman was directing three or four of them in the hoisting of a large supermarket shopping cart from the reeds at the edge of the pond, then up the stairs to the "relic" area.
The Lynn Fells Parkway side of Ell Pond had already been cleaned. There were two or three ball games being played on the fields. The games were outlined with parents and families in folding chairs. The parking lot was nearly full.
At the water's edge, a chickadee (or was it a mocking bird?) conversed with us as we walked along a path in a small linden grove. Of course we happily answered his double-noted call of "wel-come" (pause) "Spring-time!."
Addendum: The next day, the Ell Pond Restoration Committee Chairman, Dave Dickerson, got a telephone call from a concerned citizen who left his telephone number. He reported that, while walking by Ell Pond, he saw that someone had thrown a shopping cart and a bag of trash into the water near the newly cleaned banks. The kind caller said he had removed the offensive debris.
June 4, 1999