Monday, October 12, 2009

Invasive species

It's appropriate for Columbus Day that the Press Herald today carried an article on Eurasian milfoil. The plant had been discovered last year in Salmon Pond of the Belgrade Lakes, near the outlet into Great Pond, and was proliferating rapidly enough for the state to take some special attention, first with divers trying to uproot the stuff last year and then with application of 2,4-D last month. (Milfoil forms thick mats of gooey, feathery green stuff, de-oxygenating water, smothering other plants, potentially harming fish.) Apparently, the herbicide is considered safe, although swimming was banned for three days and if your dog likes to drink lake water, you were advised not to let him.

Salmon Pond is small and undistinguished; Great Pond is large and semi-famous, for clean water and lovely resorts, for fishing, although the glamorous species of salmon and trout are rapidly yielding to that cultivar of modern lake life, the voracious northern pike, and the inspiration for "On Golden Pond," although the movie was shot on Squam lake in New Hampshire. Hence the big effort by the state. Milfoil in Great Pond would be a PR disaster. Oh, and an ecological one too.

We used to have a camp on one of the Belgrade Lakes. In some ways we felt more than an invasive species there than we do now on the coast. North Pond seemed largely a place for the camps of Mainers, and our few weeks a year didn't exactly qualify us. It had jet skis and motorboats and water-skiers, and even a pontoon party boat that putt-putted along with its freight of old folks. We liked canoes. We didn't shampoo our hair in the lake.

Not that being a real Mainer is ever in the offing, although one tries. I spend half my time now in state, and have progressed as far as receiving a nod, but not yet a wave, from the local patriarch down the shore. Of course, we're all foreigners in fact, invading from somewhere. And for all the good we've brought to the land since Columbus, we might profitably dive down into our souls and uproot some tendencies. I might go so far, if I could have, as to apply a good strong dose of 2,4-D to Christopher himself.

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