Friday, November 27, 2009

SAVE the DATE: Saturday, June 26th, 2010

The turtle stepping stones installed last June have inspired the Girl Scouts to create a day-long event celebrating the denizens of our favorite pond . There will be a mosaic table for young crafters, turtle storytelling, turtle educators bringing real turtles, and other events.
Elementary school kids should bring their parents.
Rain date: Sunday, June 27th
Look for further details soon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lisa Tiemann at Ell Pond with one of the turtle stepping stones
Photo by Nicole Goodhue Boyd and article posted with permission of the
Melrose Free Press

Melrose Free Press article, June 18, 2009

Melrose's Ell Pond gets culture, horticulture

By Daniel DeMaina /

Melrose - Last Saturday, Melrose’s most famous body of water got a little makeover.

Volunteers and members of the Ell Pond Improvement Council spent the morning readying two holes for local artist Lisa Tiemann’s mosiac stepping-stones, which will serve as footrests for residents sitting on the two stone benches overlooking the pond from the Knoll.

Tiemann’s creations feature images of turtles, a nod to the painted turtles that still call Ell Pond home and the spotted turtles that once populated the pond.

“My interest is to put my art toward serving environmental causes,” Tiemann told the Free Press last month in an interview. “I think everybody has to look at how they, in their small corner of the world, can treat the world better, the earth better. For me, it was through my art.”

Dave Dickerson, president of the Ell Pond Improvement Council, said Tiemann approached him about creating a piece of artwork for the area around Ell Pond and he suggested turtles as a possible motif.

“It’s a really active area for them [turtles],” he said. “It went really well because I guess Lisa’s husband and somebody else dug the holes on Friday. That went pretty well. We had a pretty good turnout. It was really just mixing concrete and placing the two pads.”

Tiemann said books by artist and naturalist David Carroll, a New Hampshire resident and turtle expert, helped inspire the mosaics she created for the pond. She lent some of Carroll’s books to Michelle Casale, a recently graduated Melrose High School student who interned with Tiemann and helped her with creating the mosaics (“‘Education outside the classroom:’ Melrose senior internships leave the schoolhouse behind,” Free Press, May 28).

“These books were a great inspiration to me and thinking of all the life that was in that pond,” Tiemann said. “This is kind of honoring [the turtles], and perhaps a way to sit on these benches and contemplate the pond in a new way.”

Dickerson said enough volunteers showed up on Saturday that they were also able to undertake some invasive species control — targeting non-native and invasive plants that could throw the Ell Pond ecosystem out of whack.

“They kind of crowd out native plants and monopolize the ecosystem,” he said. “The one that we worked on on Saturday was bittersweet, a vine that strangles trees. We had a bunch of people cutting down vines. There are other types [of invasive species] there as well, but that was the one we worked on.”

Overall, the ecosystem is “pretty good for an urban pond,” Dickerson said, pointing out as an example the list of over 130 birds that can be seen around the pond — including rarities such as bald eagles and the Prothonotary warbler — and the large mouth bass found in the pond.

“Not all urban ponds can say that,” he said.

On the other hand, Ell Pond still faces the challenges presented by nearby antiquated storm drains and sewage systems, Dickerson said, which can lead to sewage mixing with storm water runoff and seeping into the pond.

“That’s more of a case-by-case basis — it’s more of a problem for swimming,” he said, pointing out that swimming was banned in Ell Pond in 1951. “For a small little park, it does serve an important ecological function.”