The Austin Pond Society held its regular monthly meeting last evening at the Zilker Gardens Meeting Rooms. We meet the third Monday of the month with the exception of December when we do not hold a meeting. We always meet at the same place and same time, 7:00 pm.
Last nights meeting started with out usual sampling of goodies this time provided by Sonja O’Sullivan who has volunteered to be the new caterer. If last evenings offering is anything to go by, we are in for a treat in the coming months. I talked with Sonja about the food and not recognizing the main dish, asked her what it was called. She replied that she called it Cowboy Stew. When I first walked up to her, she was deep in conversation with another member comparing the ingredients she used in her version of the famous dish. I had never heard of it before and I have lived in Texas for more than 30 years.
Guess you got to be a bit of a cowboy to hear about this stuff which leaves me out. The closest I came to being a cowboy was when I bought a pair of pointed boots and a cowboy hat and rode a horse on a couple of trail rides for fun. In my past life, I did own a couple of horses and dabbled a bit in riding but I have to say that I got more pleasure looking after them. My ex-wife ended my riding career by wanting to move from our 5 acres of heaven closer to the big city. I did keep the oldest horse in my back yard for several years although he wasn’t rideable, until I had to put him to sleep at the age of 36, pretty old for a horse.
I diverse so let’s get back to the meeting. Along with the Cowboy Stew was home-made cornbread and to finish off, chocolate cake. It was all absolutely delicious and I had to use a lot of will power not to go back for seconds. Thank you Weight Watchers.
Bill Brister called the meeting to order at about 7:15 pm and as he usually does, went over any business that needed attention. He didn’t have a lot to say except a plea for volunteers for the many positions still open on the board.
B.J. talked about the donations the Society had made this year to the four different schools and the reason they were chosen and a couple of others discussed other meetings they had attended.
The main speaker of the evening was Jeff Yarborough, Manager of the Emerald Gardens out by Oak Hill, one the of the many Pond Society sponsors. His subject was based on pond preparation for the winter, what to do and what not to worry about. The video below covers all of the topics he discussed. His biggest advice was to clean the leaves and debris out of the ponds before it gets too cold to limit the parasites from developing and then attacking the fish in the spring. He spoke a lot about installing aerators in the ponds to keep the oxygen level up through the winter months, and the fact that it really doesn’t get that cold here in Austin to worry too much about things in the water. He did warn everyone to drain pipes and pumps that were not being used through the winter to stop them from freezing especially with the above ground pumps.
I found his discussion very interesting and at the end, he opened it up for a Q and A session. Amazing the questions that people can come up with. The Emerald Gardens is holding its 20th Anniversary Salebration Oct 13-21. For further details, check out their website at http://emerald-garden.com/
We ended the evening with a general discussion about meeting attendance and the fact that it is always the same people here with maybe just a couple of exceptions. One member, who said that it was her second meeting, alluded to the fact that she was disappointed that no one bothered to approach her to either make her feel welcome or to find out what she hoped to get out of attending. Others voiced the same concerns and several people mentioned that the regular members spent most of their time talking to each other.
When I think back, the reason I joined and first attended was to try to pick up as many tips and tricks from people with much more pond experience than me. This was at least 6 years ago and back then, I was unable to make regular attendance due to other commitments. I experienced very much the same thing that this lady was referring to as no one made me feel at home or welcomed me either. Being a withdrawn type of person, it was not in me to barge in and make my presence felt and I can guarantee that many people are like me, preferring to stay on the fringes. I had reason to stand up and join in with my 5 cents worth on this topic last evening and in a follow-up conversation with B.J. she mentioned how hard it must have been for me to have my say in front of the group.
Of all of the people who I have had dealings with in the Society, I have probably had more with B.J. than with anyone else due to her position as the Pond Tour person and it came as a bit of a surprise that was how she perceived me. In my past life, I have made many public presentations to big audiences but again, maybe I have changed as the years progress. In my case, I have been very active in the Pond Society for the past two years because my schedule changed and yet, I still don’t know many of the members except to say hello. Most people know I write a blog and I have five ponds and that is the extent of it. A lot of that is my fault for not being more outgoing but its hard to change who you are. I can sympathize with any new members…And, oh yeah, I am still waiting to pick up ideas on pond improvement ideas from the meetings. It just hasn’t happened.
This discussion lasted about 15 minutes and several ideas were kicked around. Things like finding out at the start of every meeting if there were any new people in attendance and nominating a person to spend time with them as a mentor, trying the four “experts” in fish, plants, pond building and general maintenance again, polling the existing members to see what they would like to see happen at the meetings and reaching out to some of our sponsors to have them display Pond Society information and things like that. It is a real concern that the same people are holding the Society together and if our numbers continue to drop, then we could really be in trouble. We usually have around 35 people to each meeting and by all accounts have well over 200 people who are members. We need to reach out to them and try to get them back to the meetings if at all possible or at the very least, see if they have any ideas they could offer up.
The meeting closed with our usual drawing and the four winners all walked away richer by a door prize.
The next meeting is the end of the year meeting and is scheduled for November 18th, same place, same time. More details can be found on the website at http://www.Austinpondsociety.com See you there…