Friday, August 16, 2013

Coursey and Killen Ponds

The guys and gals split up today. Dave Sockrider and I got together to paddle. Jean and Linda Sockrider spent the day at the Lavender Fields Farm, on Cool Springs Road, just outside of Milton, DE. The land is part of a tract deeded to the Warrington family in 1776. It was later part of a large dairy, but has been chipped away at until only five acres remain, but those five acres are devoted exclusively to lavender. The buildings are being lovingly restored, a shop offers all kinds of lavender products, and a live presentation is given telling of the history of the farm, and the miracles of lavender’s many qualities.

One of the interesting stories Jean related to me was about how the lavender farm was saved. There was a huge area that had served as a dump on the dairy farm for many years. The woman hoping to create the lavender farm was told that the only way to deal with such a pile would be with a bobcat. She was lost for awhile, imagining a furry, wild, four-legged predator, until the finer points of a Bobcat, the construction machine, earth mover, and loader, were explained. She had had members of the Milton garden club enthusiastically offer to help. I think it would have to be seen to be fully appreciated, but she described a bunch of garden club ladies assembling and arguing over who was getting to play with the Bobcat next.

If you want to know more about Lavender Fields, here is their link.
After their visit at the Lavender Fields, which by related accounts neither Jean nor Linda wanted to leave, they capped off the afternoon with a visit to the Irish Eyes, an Irish pub in Milton.

David Sockrider on his Ocean Kayak SOT at Coursey Pond.
Meanwhile, Dave and I headed for Killens Pond, a 66-acre pond near Frederica, DE. Both Coursey and Killens Ponds comprise reservoirs on the headwaters of the Murderkill River, which empties into the Delaware Bay at Bowers Beach. The name of the Murderkill always raises eyebrows, or at least curiosity. First, kill is a Dutch word for river. The Murder River, then, got its name from a story of an Indian massacre of a Dutch trading party at the mouth of the Murderkill in 1648. The pond was created in the late 1700’s, and the Killens Pond State Park was built on the north side of the pond in 1965.

The bridge across the entrance to the headwaters of Killen Pond.
We continued up the headwater as far as we could. When we were almost out of both width and depth in the stream, I got a real treat. I was moving along as quietly as I could. I finally ran out of channel width, and instead of paddling in the water, spent much of my time paddling the dirt and grass of the stream’s banks. Not more than 25-feet away on the left bank was the root ball of a deadfall tree and a clump of thick grass. I didn’t think I was making a sound, but a doe sleeping in the grass obviously heard something, and stood up. She first looked upstream, away from me, thinking whatever she had heard had come from that direction. With her ears twitching about, she finally looked my way. I froze. She looked at me, turned, and with no apparent fright, took a couple steps, stopped and looked at me again, taking a couple more steps. She just very slowly meandered casually off into the woods. I had the choice of going for my camera and causing her to bolt away, or just sit motionless and enjoy her curiosity over the stranger in her woods. Sorry, no picture.

Killen Pond headwaters.
When we got back to our cars, I had a note under my windshield wiper from a state park ranger advising me that I didn’t have the needed state park pass. He apparently zoomed in on my out-of-state registration plates. We knew there was a state park on the north side of the pond, but didn’t know that the put-in on the opposite side of the pond was also park property. There was no ticket, just a friendly reminder of the proper procedure I needed to follow if ever visiting again.

We then moved on to Coursey Pond, at 58-acres, which is fed by both the Murderkill headwaters and Spring Creek. Ironically, I found that we had paddled exactly the same 3.2 miles on both ponds. It was a breezy day, but with the small size of the pond and the convoluted shoreline, plus the many patches of water lilies, we usually didn’t notice it.
That evening, Dave and Linda took Jean and I both out to dinner to celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary.


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