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Weis: Our Liquid Assets

Emily Alfin Johnson
Maidstone Lake in the Northeast Kingdom is one of Vermont's exceptional bodies of water.

My family and I live across from a marsh and down the road from a pond.

These bodies of water immeasurably add to our enjoyment of life, especially during the warmer months. We ice skate and cross-country ski on and around them during the wintertime, but summertime is when we truly make the most of these invaluable liquid assets.

The other day, while canoeing and kayaking in the marsh, we spied herons in their nest, plus an abundance of flowering lily pads – and we heard the distinctive squawk of a great blue heron. Other times, we’ve seen turtles sunning on logs, swallows skimming the waters, and redwing blackbirds alighting on cattails. And, primarily at dusk, we’ve watched beavers busily going about their business.

Also at sunset we like to eavesdrop on deer as they come down to take a drink, but we have to be very quiet for this to happen.

Speaking of staying silent, I remember my visiting sister from the NY-city area shouting, “Everyone be quiet and just listen!” when her kids got all excited on their first evening excursion to the marsh. Magic ensued during that enforced silence, with everyone tuning in to the sounds of various marsh-dwelling fauna – especially the robust chorus of calling and croaking frogs.

One summer, the first time a Fresh Air Fund visitor we were hosting laid eyes on the pond, her eyes grew as big as water chestnuts. Then she spent the rest of her visit mostly in the water. A few years later our own kids would happily play in and by the pond for hours on end.

Of course, Vermont has many liquid treasures, including “the jewel of New England,” as Senator Leahy calls Lake Champlain. And I was very upset to hear that eight million gallons of wastewater – triple last year’s total! - has already been released into the lake this year. No wonder the Conservation Law Foundation has given our state a D+ for its Lake Champlain clean-up efforts.

Seems to me the recent stripping of funding for waterways clean-up by the VT Senate just doesn’t hold water – so to speak. I get that it’s important for Vermont to remain an affordable place to live, but it’s equally important to protect the natural resources that make our state such a great place to live in the first place.