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  • David Leavitt

Reclaiming a Pond

Ethan, our seventeen year old, and I spent seven or eight hours with square nose shovels getting rid of the compost that as come to fill the upper pond over the last six or seven decades. We're still only about 50% done as we waved the white flag after being absolutely eaten alive by West Scotland Midges.

None of us have ever experienced midges until our two week visit to the castle. We are fully initiated now, to be sure! After the first few hours we were all so thoroughly bitten and eaten that it took us several days to stop itching! The next day, however, we came prepared with mosquito nets over our heads. We thought for sure that would protect us. But the midge is about 1/20 the the size of a mosquito and weighs a whopping 1/8000th of an ounce! We learned quickly that mosquito nets only serve as an obstacle course for the tiny midge. The nets managed to keep 95% of the thousands of tiny creatures out of our faces. But that didn't give us a lot of comfort!

On day three, I think we actually won the midge battle. We came prepared with spray, gloves, long sleeve shirts, fabric wrapped around our heads, with only holes cut out for our eyes, and finally safety glasses over our eyes. And then we sprayed the outside of the cloth mask one more time for good measure.

The result was great progress in getting the ponds mucked out. The ponds are completely lined with concrete and over the last seventy years has become the source of growing compost as leaves, branches, and whatever else fell from the trees above gradually filling the nearly two foot deep pond. Because we are nervous about what we might find in the bottom of the pond (like drains or a water source), we've determined to dig them out by hand, rather than by a digger.

Our twenty one year old son Seth visited us at the castle last week and visited the ponds to look over our progress. he took one look at them and exclaimed that the pond and the little castle model on the edge of the ponds is a small replica of the larger version. Sure enough, as he pointed it out, we could see that the fairy castle sits on the shores or Loch Long with Gare Loch on the other side, and the Firth of Clyde between those two. It was a pretty great discovery!

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