I’ve driven by it thousands of times. I’ve always admired it. I would miss it if it disappeared under the weight of development.
But I’ve never stopped, not until today. Today I stop because I am curious about the walkway, but instead I find myself enchanted by the pond’s lesser- seen side. I want to see what lies on the far side of the pond.
On Nursery Road, between Lake Drive and Keene Road, there’s a tree-fringed pond on the north side of the street. A wooden boardwalk crosses it and guards it from the street. There is nowhere to park except on private property. As I pull into the parking lot of the tidy white group of buildings that make up the Lutheran church abutting the nondescript lake, I realize I have no idea if I’m trespassing or not.
And it really is a nondescript lake. There are no arching cypress or giant prehistoric ferns. Certainly Florida has grander waterways, but none so close. I park my car and circle the pond. It is a small drop of water as compared to the Gulf of Mexico a few miles to my west and the rivers inland, but it is a lush, verdant cluster of foliage almost hidden from view. Were it not for the timber walkway traversing the street side of the pond, I may never have noticed it.
While I am unclear as to whether or not I have any right to be on the property, I assume that since I’m doing no harm and there’s a city employee enjoying lunch there as well, no one’s going to ask me to leave. In fact, there are two benches positioned at a right angle to each other that seem quite inviting.
Just as I don’t know who owns the pond, I have no idea who created it. Was this tiny, pretty body of water here before the houses, or is it a glorified drainage ditch installed as a requirement of the water management district?
I stop my line of thinking because I realize it doesn’t matter right now. The pond is here and I would be better served to stop and enjoy it rather than dissect its origins. I walk the lake slowly. The shallow water reflects the oak branches that cover it with variegated greens and browns; the grass runs into the shore, and lakeside plants claim the gently sloping ground as their own piece of suburban paradise.
Should I be ashamed that I’ve never stopped at this suburban oasis before today, or simply pleased that I finally thought to stop? True, there is nothing here that I can’t see at a number of other lakes, but this quiet little sanctuary is what is here now. In front of me I have cool water and lush vegetation and a sense of serenity.
Here, across the pond from the wooden walkway, I feel protected. The pond and its insulating greenery shields me from the road. I am shielded from the pressures of time and deadlines, even though they are always there, waiting for me when I emerge from my tiny cocooned world of roadside ponds. Beyond the wooden boardwalk across the water, traffic zips along, cars filled with people continuing their journey.
Me? After a lot of work, I’m content to gaze at the water and enjoy the destination.