Trebbe Johnson
Ithaca, NY

Story Info

Story & Experience

In the spring, the pond has a few inches of water in it, and wood frogs and peepers congregate there and sing all day and all night. But then the warm weather comes, and the pond dries up. Branches from the willows, cottonwood, and white pines fall into it. I have thought of offering to buy it from my neighbors, but I can’t afford it, and it’s probably not a very good investment anyway.

This morning I sat on a fallen branch and looked at the pond. On one of the fallen branches, a variety of green plants have grown up. They look like a botanical display (photo below). White fuzz from the cottonwood tree has drifted into little pillows. An upturned willow tree is sprouting new shoots all up and down the truck. Whenever I see an upturned tree, I think of how my grandfather used to tell me that, when he was a boy growing up on a farm in Connecticut, he would often find arrowheads on the undersides of old trees that had fallen. All my life I have looked and never found an arrowhead.

My RadJoy Bird has a head made of a piece of wood that seemed very head-like, willow fronds for a crest, a cottonwood leaf throat, wings of twigs and dried thatch, cottonwood fluff for the body, and a tail made of a twig of white pine and a twig with moss clinging to it.

I realized I don’t have to own this little pond in order to appreciate it and take care of it.

Why this Place?

Ithaca, NY

This little seasonal pond is in the back of my house. About 1/3 of it is on my land, the rest is on my neighbor’s land. Tree branches have fallen into it, and it is unvisited and uncared for. It delights me that the pond shows up, looking very pond-like, as a blue dot on the map.


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.