Story and photos by Lauren Chamberlain
I try to get outside in nature at least once a week. Especially because I spend a lot of time looking at my screen, it is vital that I get this time to reset, absorb nature and reconnect to the land. I, like many others, need – and I say this nicely – to go touch grass.
One of my favorite places to go is the largest park in Monroe County with nearly 2,500 acres of woods, ponds, wetlands, trails, and remarkable landforms – the one and only Mendon Ponds Park.
When I was younger, I remember it was the prime spot to feed birds. I have this vivid memory of standing still – as still as a child possibly could – and stretching my arm up to the sky, squeezing my eyes shut, and holding my breath. Until, finally, I felt little feet land on the tip of my fingers. Eyes bursting open in glee, I watched as a Chickadee ate seeds straight from my palm and fluttered back into the surrounding trees.
This childlike glee did not dissipate. As a twenty-one-year-old, I still find joy in this activity and many others this park can offer. This past afternoon, I wanted to explore Devil’s Bathtub Pond and the Birdsong Fairy Trail. The striking dichotomy between these two attractions is certainly not lost on me.
Despite its polarizing name, the Devil’s Bathtub is a fascinating, rare phenomenon in nature. It is a meromictic pond, meaning that the layers in the water do not mix nor do they “turn over” like most ponds do each spring and fall. This is due to the depth – roughly 47 feet at its deepest point – and protection by the geologic features around it.
After a short walk down the trail along the edge of the pond, I turned around and headed back to my car. This was simply because I forgot bug spray and found myself being harassed by mosquitoes and horse flies. Not ready to end my outdoor excursion, I drove to another area of the park to walk the Birdsong Fairy Trail.
This trail delivers exactly what the name promises. It displays some of the most creative and adorable fairy houses up and down the marked path. While I am sure I missed some, I counted nearly forty different unique fairy structures. Some homes were obvious, others more hidden. Either high in the treetops or residing among the roots. Some were so tiny they almost went unnoticed. These fantastical dwellings were created and displayed by local artist and woodworker couple Betsy and Chris Marshall.
Regardless of your physical abilities, interest, or free time available, there is undoubtedly something for you to do in Mendon Ponds Park. If you are looking for a beautiful outdoor experience, look no further. Go spend time using this space to reconnect with nature, and – again, I say this with love – go touch grass.