Clearing out for skating at Parsonage Pond
A group of volunteers turned out Saturday to help clear Parsonage Pond in West Tisbury of choking vegetation. Photo by Diana Waring
Last weekend a group of about 15 volunteers turned out to help the Whiting family clear an unusually thick growth of vegetation from Parsonage Pond in West Tisbury.
On State Road at the corner of the Edgartown Road, Parsonage Pond is a popular place for local families to go skating. Very shallow, shaded on the south, and without an inlet and outlet to make the water flow, Parsonage is always the first pond to freeze ice thick enough to skate on. Also because it is shallow, it is a safer place to take children than Uncle Seth's or Ice House or the nearby Mill Pond. A skater who falls through the ice at Parsonage usually has no greater problem than wet trousers and muddy skates.
However, the things that make it good for skating are also what make it especially vulnerable to silting in and turning back into a marsh, as all ponds eventually do. Dug by hand and sitting above the water table, the pond is essentially only a cistern to catch rainwater. Over the years, silt collects and has nowhere to go.
Last November, according to Tara Whiting, who runs the bed and breakfast overlooking the pond, the family got permits from the conservation commission to clear vegetation by hand, and in two weekend days volunteers removed enough reeds to be ready for the skating season.
This year, the problem is worse. The dry summer reduced the pond to a small puddle, and plants had an orgy of growth on the exposed mud flats. Rain and snow-melt will fill the pond, but the plants are higher than the water will be.
Prudie Whiting and Allen Whiting organized last weekend's efforts, but less than one quarter of this year's abundant vegetation has so far been removed. Many more days will be needed to get the pond ready for skating. Tara Whiting says that she thinks the next clearing party will be the weekend of Oct. 8, and she invites volunteers to show up and help. If you'd like to help, call Allen or Prudie for the details.