A Pond Called Carolyn

Carolyn Longworth of Fairhaven is a retired director from the Millicent Library after some 25 years of dedicated service. After she retired, she was asked by the town’s selectboard to come to a meeting to review her distinguished record of achievement. She was very pleased when they read a proclamation of her diligence in working with various organizations in the SAILS Library network.

            Carolyn was even more surprised and pleased at the end of the meeting when they talked about her avid birdwatching hobby at a pond nearby that was her favorite birding spot adjacent to the hurricane barrier near Egypt Lane. Then she was even more amazed when they announced that, in her honor, the pond would be named “Carolyn’s Pond.” One of her fellow birders had suggested the name dedication to show Fairhaven’s appreciation of her service. She now says she cried when this award was presented because she felt it was the best thing that ever happened to her.

            The pond itself had been restored by the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Service from being a disposal area. Carolyn found it to be a very therapeutic and relaxing retreat to visit before work, during lunch, and after work. She was especially interested in her favorite bird, the Pie-billed Grebe (shown raising a family there in my illustration), because it was also listed as an endangered species.

            The Pie-billed Grebe was also the subject of my wildlife column in the October 2019 issue of The Wanderer. A Great White Heron also showed up with two mystical mute swans that brought many visiting birders to Fairhaven. Carolyn herself had written about the migratory grebe that winters as far south as Panama, returning in spring to this same restored habitat of its own choosing and preference. It is also found as far north as Walden Pond in Concord, the home of Henry David Thoreau.

            Thoreau was famous for building small cabins on its shore to lead a very quiet life exclusively alone to preserve the pond’s nature and to isolate himself from the trials and tribulations of other people.

            Like the owner of the pond, Ralph Waldo Emerson became a transcendentalist, a popular mentality of its day, thinking that people are at their best when they are truly solitary, self-reliant, and entirely independent. They wanted to believe that human beings could find their own spirituality in religion, finding and observing and living in the natural world. Thoreau, for instance, thought that the call of the loon on his pond was the most unearthly sound he had ever heard, just one of his interpretations of natural calls across the water that reverberated, echoed, and reflected images of heaven and earth on the horizon, as time went by.

            May this article and illustration for you, the reader, help us to understand why Carolyn was able to find inspiration and peace of mind at the pond that would bear her name after a career that truly benefited the Millicent Public Library System of higher education.

By George B. Emmons

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