Just A Branch

by Greg Holt, MWLA President

Early in the spring I noticed a small birch branch that due to the vagaries of wind and current had lodged itself between some rocks and one of the posts of our dock right near the shoreline. It was mostly underwater, with just a little sticking up into the air.

I got down on my hands and knees and was thinking about the easiest way to reach in and remove it. It seemed like the best way was to get in the water which I didn’t want to do at the time and as it looked like something I could put off for a while, I left it. I saw it again the next time down at the dock and realized it really wasn’t on the side of the dock that we use when we go swimming, and it wasn’t where we launch any canoes or kayaks. It was on the side where we tie up our boat, but the branch wasn’t in the way of that either.

As the summer progressed, I did see schools of minnows swimming around the branch. I also saw some tadpoles wiggling under and around it – they were the big ones. I really can’t identify the different types of tadpoles, but I like to think they were the bullfrog variety. Off and on, dragonflies would perch on a part of the branch above the water, maybe resting between forays to eat mosquitoes – I don’t know.

What happened on or about that branch when I wasn’t looking, I don’t know either. Were larger fish cruising by and looking for a meal? Was a mink occasionally on it at night? I do know that a kingfisher occasionally will sit on one of the posts of my dock farther from the shore, several yards away from the branch in the water. Did the branch in the water maybe make the hunting better for the kingfisher? Who knows?

Over the last few years it seems like we have had less trouble with geese down by the shore. That may be because our buffer has slowly grown denser, or maybe it’s because a greater variety of types of plants have appeared there. If the geese do come up on land it is generally in one of two spots, one of which is where that branch lodged last spring. Did we have less geese again this year? I think so but have not kept any data on it. And if we had less, did it have anything to do with the branch? Another unknown.

There are a lot of unknowns about that branch. But the one thing I think I know is that I got more pleasure out of it than I would have had if I had removed it.