By Per John Ostman
There are mysteries in our waters. Some are primal directives that draw us near to contemplate, to revel, to discover and to be. But there’s always more. Some of our waters have more secrets than others.
My father always talked about the proper Viking send off upon death - the Valkyrie (handmaidens of Oden) would lift your soul from the battlefield and take you to Valhalla, while your friends would set your body aflame in a boat and send you off on the waters. Per Olof passed away in 2002, and no, we didn’t set him on fire in Bakers Pond, but we really wanted to. He would have really wanted that. Our family connection with Bakers Pond is deep and reverent, like many who live by the water, who peer into its nature and feel the deep connection of life. Water’s secrets revealed, to understand what brought us here, is truly a gift.
A kettle hole pond left over from the glacial retreat 12,000 years ago, 29.3 acre Bakers Pond is one of four Great Ponds (over 10 acres) in Orleans, pretty deep at 64ft, an oligotrophic (cold water) fishery that is stocked with trout several times a year. It’s no secret that it’s a great fishing spot and many have discovered its beautiful waters for small craft boating. While technically “impacted” by nutrients, primarily phosphorus, for the most part it is still recognized as one of the cleanest ponds on the Cape and, with some Swedish enthusiasm, one of the cleanest in the country - at least we think so.
Why do we love it so? What is its secret? It’s far more than just a wet and cool retreat in the summer: a convergence of land, wind and water; of flora and fauna; of timeless spirituality. Listen to the evening symphony of the frogs, the splashes and screeches of the soaring daily fish hunt of the osprey. Witness the restorative stop-over for many migratory species, the herd of deer traversing the frozen surface in winter. Watch the beautiful pink of the rare Plymouth Gentian gently dancing on the shoreline, the mist rising in the morning. Bakers Pond is a complete ecosystem that truly includes us as harmonious participants in an ongoing infinity.
But there are more secrets. Very few know about the pre-Cambrian mammoth snapping turtle that patrols the shoreline of Bakers Pond daily in the summer. Or, that the pond becomes very shallow around Wells’ point and is dotted with leftover glacial boulders that can wreck havoc with your centerboard if you’re not careful. More subtly, (and many who live on the pond don’t even know this), just off the north shore conservation land there are two locations were you’ll find the Stone People of Bakers Pond. Submerged in about 6 feet of water, about 10 feet off shore are stick figures created in cobbles. Could they have been created by the first settlers of Cape Cod, (Vikings, of course, on their not well publicized first trip 10,000 years ago)? An alien message? No one really knows. A short canoe, kayak or SUP trip will reveal this secret. < I know, yes, other ponds have their secrets and some are at least half as beautiful as our beloved Bakers Pond, but those are stories for another article. Bakers Pond has many more secrets to reveal– invitations to explore and wonder and enjoy. However, there is one BIG secret of Bakers Pond that is wholly unique and part of our family mythology. We think it might affect the future of human existence, but, for now, is hilarious. So, we keep vigil, sentinels and stewards for the Pond we love, keeping the universe safe, for now. There is a secret of Bakers Pond, and we know what it is, but we’re not telling. Some secrets just need to be kept. - Per John Ostman is a strategy and management consultant and is treasurer of the Orleans Pond Coalition. Water Water Everywhere is a monthly contribution of the Orleans Pond Coalition. For more information, please visit www.orleanspondcoalition.org.