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VISITORS TO THE POND

One visitor is this 3 1/2 foot majestic blue heron that stands very still for long periods of time while deciding which fish he will have for breakfast or dinner. He is very alert with keen eyes, but john got out his Nikon and telephoto lens and got this picture through a screened window. john estimates his wing span to be about six feet across. Hopefully, the weather will soon turn cold and the heron should be moving on before the pond has been totally emptied. (post script: ha, how naive john was). Click here: heron solution for updates to the heron problem.

Another visitor is this immature green heron which is about 8 inches tall. It looks so pathetically hungry john lets it fish in zenpond. It will come within 3 feet of john while it fishes for a small fish. This green heron likes john to talk to it and will look up occasionally from fishing as if to acknowledge what john is saying.

This Spring ('99) a pair of Mallard ducks would make a long glideslope landing across the length of the pond and spend the day on "The Third Rock From the Sun" (third stepping stone from the deck actually) or swim over to the waterfall and climb layer by layer to the very top where they would stand "Zenning out" for hours. Some times they would swim over close to the window where the tuckmeister (zencat) was sunning and quack at him for added fun. (February 27, 00 - The Mallard ducks have returned to zenpond. This is the same day john turned the large waterfall back on. The ducks are sitting in the mini-ponds that are part of the waterfall.) (October 26, 00 - The Mallards have not been around for months now, but then neither have the blue or green herons been back. Many bullfrogs have been eyeing john and eddie as they built the retaining wall behind the large waterfall and the new pump house. Today, john found a bullfrog far from the pond. The frog let john pick him up, without trying to jump (the frog, not john), and put him back closer to the small pond. )

Hummingbirds, dragonflies, tree-frogs, bullfrogs, butterflies,chipmunks, doves, redbirds, squirrels, sparrows, bluejays, Mallard ducks, Wood ducks and blackbirds are of course always close at hand.

One special visitor to zenpond is Gary now living with his wife, Kim, in Lee's Summit, Missouri. He also helped john build some of zenpond. Gary is the focus of an article under Quiet Time called, not surprisingly: "Gary".

Another special visitor to zenpond is Eddie. Eddie reminds john of Charlie Chaplin in "City Lights". He has a heart of gold, is honest, and is willing to move 85 pound rocks all day long for very low pay and a lot of joyce's great cookies. He has a huge amount of common sense and john enjoys conversations with Eddie while they work. One day john asked Eddie what his favorite experience in life has been. Eddie didn't hesitate to answer: "working on zenpond." He meant it. During the winter months, Eddie sits in his one room upstairs apartment in the highest crime area of Kansas City, KS and listens to the gunshots, prostitutes and drug dealers at the bottom of his stairs. Recently he was mugged and kicked (several broken ribs) when he went out at dusk to get a soda at a nearby market. He has taken up Zen mediation. (2005 Postscript: Eddie's life has improved. He now lives with his partner, Luther, a little further from the crime area. Luther is very intelligent and a Buddhist also.) (June 2007 Postscript: Luther has been told that he has three months to live due to advanced lung cancer. Eddie is, of course, very upset.)

Other humans have been visitors to the pond as well. They are too numerous to mention, but often strangers will stop their cars and come over to congratulate john on his landscaping of the front yard (one day while working in front, john actually counted thirty-two such stops!). He usually then shows them zenpond. Needless to say, it took john some time to complete the front.

One evening at dusk, the doorbell rang and two ladies asked if they might see where the source of the water sounds were coming from. They explained that they had walked by the house every night for the last two years and couldn't stand it any longer. They were very apologetic for disturbing joyce and john, but they had to see! They seemed delighted with zenpond.

Another set of visitors drove to Niagara Falls, Hershey Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Busch Gardens, and zenpond for their vacation. Nice to be included with such distinguished landmarks!

Mads, john and joyce's Danish godson from Copenhagen, visited zenpond with his family in the summer of 1995 when he turned sixteen. Here is Mads in July '99 with a prize common carp (4.5 kg) that he caught in Torning, Jutland. His father,Ulf, is a major general in charge of the Danish Home Guard (60,000 troops). Mads also caught a mirror-carp weighing 12.1 kg from Sollerod Lake on July 10, 1999. Mads mom, Lisa, teaches school in Copenhagen and Mads younger sister, Sofie, is active in sports. (March 1, 00 - john and Joyce have just learned that Ulf will be inducted into the US Army's "Hall Of Fame" in April. This is a great honor for Ulf and john and Joyce are very proud of Ulf. Congratulations, Ulf!!!)

Joyce and john are members of Greater Kansas City People to People (www.gkcptp.org). As a result, people from all over the world visit zenpond. Here for a year at the US Army's Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Dennis and Helena and their beautiful children from Sweden often visit zenpond for dinner or a game of "Sequence". Also, Antonio, Maria, Tonio y Jorge from Spain often come for dinner at zenpond.

During the Summer of 2004, Neal and Janice Lewis from Jamaica stayed overnight at zenpond with their eleven children. They were on their way to see one of their other three children attending the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When they got up in the morning for breakfast, in flew fifty ducks for their breakfast at zenpond. john and joyce thinks that morning set a record for visitors to zenpond!

During the summer of 2005, john had to call JoHann's Animal Control (913-831-2857) to catch and release a red, female racoon staying under the deck at zenpond. The racoon was beautiful, but john was afraid she would be "in harm's way" in the city. The racoon now lives in Lone Jack, Missouri in the wild.

Generally, if an animal comes to zenpond, it finds sanctuary. As a result, all neighbors call john if they find a hurt animal. john is very careful and doesn't risk harm to himself in any way. He has rushed some hurt animals to a wonderful volunteer organization: Operation Wildlife (O.W.L.) in Lenexa, KS. john is more impressed with Operation Wildlife all the time!

Operation Wildlife (http://www.owl-online.org)
(913) 631-6566
11218 W 75th St
Shawnee Mission, KS 66214

Marion Ross (Mrs. Cunningham on "Happy Days") and her partner, Paul Michael, also visited zenpond on September 11, 2006 for a party. Jack Stack furnished the BBQ, The New Theatre furnished the liquor, and john and joyce furnished zenpond. The result was a benefit for theatre students that netted over $3000. Dodie Brown, Richard Carrothers, and Dennis Hennessy of the New Theatre also visited zenpond that evening. For more about the Summer Benefit at zenpond visit: www.thenewtheatreguild.org .

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