About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

When Is a Pond Not a Pond?
When It's a Gravel Pit

When you hear the words "gravel pit," chances are you think of Fred Flintstone operating a brontosaurus bulldozer and excavating boulders from a dry, dusty quarry. That's what I think of, anyway.

So people probably wonder why I call the pond near our house a gravel pit. That's what Mike and his parents call it. So that's what I call it.

The Story of the Gravel Pit
The pond started out as a Flintstone-like gravel pit. In the 1980s, contractors who were rebuilding State Highway 56 asked residents if they'd be willing to sell fill in order to provide a base for the road. Mike's parents, who lived on 40 acres at the time, obliged. Gravel was dug out from a five-acre area. The excavation went below the water table, creating a spring-fed gravel pit.

The spring-fed gravel pit near our house.

If you go wading in the water off the main beach, you'll follow a long, long slope where the water gradually gets knee high, then chest high, then shoulder high. That's the driveway where the trucks entered the pit to collect gravel and sand. But at any moment, the water depth can plunge to 15 feet. One old-school fisherman says some parts of the gravel pit are 65 feet deep. But the jury is still out on that one.

If Jerry can make it to the top
of the bluff, he's in good shape.
The topsoil that was taken off the sand and gravel was bulldozed and bermed into a 25-foot-high bluff. It provides a "Rocky"-type workout for my dog Jerry. If he can make it all the way up to the top, he's in good shape. Lately he's able to make it up only halfway, as he's been out of commission for a couple of weeks. He stepped on a piece of glass on a secluded trail at the pit and cut an artery in his foot. So I confine his romps to the main beach.

The Gravel Pit Changes Owners
Locals still refer to the gravel pit as "Maricles' Pond," even though the land changed hands some 30 years ago. Mike's parents sold 25 acres of their land to the DNR for $9,000 -- a decent price back in the day. The DNR was interested in turning the land into a WMA, or  Wildlife Management Area, a place to preserve wildlife and provide public access to fishing and hunting. Mike's parents sold because the gravel pit had become a headache: loud parties, drug deals, dangerous characters. Also, the DNR pointed out that Mike's parents would be liable for any injuries.

And when you mix beer and bodies of water, an accident is waiting happen.

Shortly after the sale a guy backed his pickup to the water's edge, dove off the truck bed into the water, and hit his head on a rock. He was temporarily paralyzed. Mike's parents would have been on the hook had they still owned the land.

The Gravel Pit Gets Trashed
Members of Triton High School E.A.R.T.H.:
Environmental Awareness and Responsibility at Triton High.

Broken glass and empty cans aren't the only things partiers leave behind. Over the years, people have used the WMA as an unceremonious dumping ground for flat-screen TVs and computer monitors. In June, students from Triton High School's E.A.R.T.H. Patrol  collected 12 bags of trash and a truckload of old electronics. On a recent hot dry day, a woman who brought her dog for a swim noticed the fire pit was smoldering. She doused the fire pit, then disposed of the bag of trash I had picked up. So there is hope.

Maricles' Pond Is Minnesota's Pond
The 25 acres of land no longer belongs to our family, but technically it does. It belongs to all Minnesotans. And we all have an obligation to preserve it. If I ever win the lottery, I'll buy back the land from the DNR. Until then, when I drive on State Highway 56, I'm satisfied knowing that our gravel is providing the foundation.

Related Posts
Triton Teens Take Out Trash
Don't Bogart that WMA, Dude!

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