Holiday Pond  by Edith M. Patch

A Pond-Lily's Guests

A DVENA lives in Holiday Pond. She is a yellow pond-lily. Some people call her "spatter-dock," and some call her "cow lily." One day a man who studies plants said her name is "Advena." You may take your choice. Advena herself does not care what she is called.

The first time I visited Advena, I followed a path down a little hill to the pond. The path was narrow and led from side to side like the graceful trail of a snake. At the foot of the hill the path was bordered by sweetgale bushes, and I could not see the pond until I was very near it.

There were two large birds, with long necks and legs like stilts, standing by the quiet lake. They were herons. When they saw me come out from among the bushes at the end of the path, they were startled and flew away.

Next a family of sandpipers flew low across the water, speaking their alarm in sweet, quick tones.

Then the green frogs performed. They leaped from the shore to the pond, yelping wildly as they went. Their voices sounded somewhat like squealing pigs and somewhat like hurt birds screaming. But those funny frogs were in no pain. Jumping high into the air and splashing into the water with war whoops were their ways of scaring animals that came too near. They did not go quite together. They went one after another, quickly, like a package of exploding firecrackers. There seemed to be one hundred of the shrieking little jumping jacks.

A minute later all was quiet. There was not a frog to be seen or heard. A lot of circles, growing wider and wider, on top of the water, showed where the little yelpers had disappeared.

Sometime afterwards I saw one of the frogs again. He was sitting on one of Advena's big, flat leaves. His body was heavy enough to push the leaf down a little way so that all of him except his nose was covered with water. This time the frog did not jump or yelp. He was as silent and motionless as the leaf on which he sat. The back of his head and shoulders were almost as green as the leaf, and I was near enough to touch him before I saw him.


Advena, the yellow pond‑lily.

Often a frog visits Advena in this way. It is as if a neighbor came to rest on the porch and enjoy the view. Sometimes he helps himself to a bit of lunch if he sees anything that he likes to eat. He is so quiet while he waits that flying insects alight near him and water insects swim close to the leaf.

A colony of tiny insects, called aphids, spend the summer with Advena. They camp on the upper side of a long, trailing leaf-stem if one happens to lie on top of the water. Another favorite camping place is the under side of a leaf when Advena grows tall enough to push her leaves into the air. They are the same kind of little sap-drinkers as Nim Fay, who lived on the arrowhead. So of course the winged ones fly to the plum trees when they are ready to leave their summer camp.

Don and Acia visit Advena every summer. They are dark-colored beetles with rather narrow bodies that glisten in the sunshine. On almost any summer day they may be seen resting on Advena's leaves, although they are quick to fly if any one comes near.


Don and Acia visit the yellow pond‑lily every summer. They are quick to fly if any one comes near.

Don does not do much except to rest and fly and eat. He does not have a busy summer. But Acia finds a good place for her eggs.

The place she chooses is the under side of one of Advena's leaves, but it must be a leaf that lies flat on top of the water. Acia glues her eggs on the wet under side of the leaf, but she does not go into the water to do so. She stands on top of the leaf and bites a hole in it. Then she pokes the tip of her body through the hole and places her eggs in a circle around the hole. She covers them with a substance that looks like gelatine.

The tiny white eggs stay in their nest of glue for about a week and a half before the young Dons and Acias hatch. The young ones do not find anything that satisfies them on Advena's leaf, so they go on a journey. They travel as far as the underground stem of the yellow pond-lily, the part that grows in the oozy bottom of the pond.

They look nothing whatever like their father and mother. They are little white grubs down in the soft black mud. They need food to eat and air to breathe, and where do you suppose they find it?

There is plenty of air in Advena's stems. She breathes with her leaves, and her stems have little cells filled with air. If her stems are broken under the water, bubbles of air come up to the top of the pond.

The little white grubs have sharp spines at the tips of their tails. With these spines they bore into the stem of the pond-lily and break some of the air-cells. When the air comes out of the stem, the little grubs take it into their breathing pores. In this way they can breathe while in the water even though they have no gills.

They find food, too, in the yellow pond-lily. They nibble round holes in the underground stems and eat all they need to make them grow.

After they are as large and plump as Don and Acia grubs ever grow to be, each one spins a silken cocoon. The silk comes from glands that open in the mouth, and with it the grub makes a cocoon that is tough and brown. This strong case is water-tight and air-tight. The water cannot soak into it, and the air cannot get out.

In such snug sleeping bags among Advena's roots, the young insects rest until they have changed from white water grubs to beetles with wings. Then they nibble holes in the cocoons and creep out into the water. But they do not stay there long. Their water days are over. They rise to the top of the pond and climb up Advena's blossom stalk or other handy ladder.

At last they look like their father and mother, all dark and shiny in the sunshine. When you come too near, away they go on wings as quick as were those of old Don and Acia.

To watch one of Advena's leaves on a quiet, sunny summer day is like looking at a moving picture. A slender damsel-fly, with wings held lengthwise along its body, rests lightly on the big, flat, heart-shaped leaf for a while. A long-legged water strider comes skimming and skipping over the surface of the water and takes several hops across the broad leaf. A lot of shiny whirligig-beetles dart around in quick circles in the water near by. A young frog rests its chin on the rim and looks and waits for some time before it swims away.

If you choose to watch an old yellow leaf, sunken a little so that one edge is covered with water, you are likely to see some tiny fishes poking against it and swimming across it.

A snail may come, too—a water snail with the coils of its shell so flat that both sides look almost alike. This snail comes to the surface to change the air in its air-sac. The used air comes bubbling out, and then the sac fills with fresh air. The snail can hold this air in the sac and use it while under water. Perhaps, during its visit to Advena, the snail may scrape off and eat a bit of the ripe and mellow leaf.


Snails that live in the water often visit the plants in the pond.

Many of Advena's guests do nothing whatever in return for the food and comfort they enjoy while visiting her. Others, however, help her very much. Indeed, the lives of her seeds depend on the visits of certain of her guests. Among these are bees and flies that come to her blossoms.

The outside green sepals that protect the bud of a yellow pond-lily do not stay green as the sepals of a rose do. They turn bright yellow and form the showy part of the flower. Inside of them are short, scale-like petals and rows and rows of short, flat, flap-like stamens. The petals and stamens are in a circle around the base of the big greenish box full of young seeds. The seeds cannot live and grow unless some pollen is sprinkled on the sticky top of the seed-box.

There is plenty of pollen on the stamens, but it does not ripen in time to do any good to the seeds in the same flower. So that is how the small bees help Advena. They go into yellow pond-lily blossoms that are old enough to have ripe pollen. They gather as much as they can. They need it for "bee bread" for their young bees to eat. While they are busy inside the flower, their bodies become dusty with pollen. Next they fly to a younger blossom which is open only a little way. They walk over the sticky top of the seed-box, and some of the yellow dust stays there, where Advena needs it for her seeds. After that they creep among the short petals and help themselves to a little sweet nectar they find there. They like to taste some of it, and some they carry away. They need nectar to mix with pollen when they make their "bee bread."

Certain large flower flies come to pond-lily blossoms to sip nectar and eat pollen, and they carry the golden, live dust from the older flowers to the younger ones as the bees do. They are the syrphus flies, and some of them are as large as the little bees that they meet in Advena's blossoms.

The bees and the syrphus flies never know that they help the plants they visit. They do not know when pollen shakes off their bodies and falls on the sticky tops of the seed-boxes in the blossoms. Advena herself does not know that the lives of her seeds depend on such flower insects.

People, however, can watch Advena and see how her guests behave. And is it not rather comforting to know that some of her visitors treat her well? So well, indeed, that yellow pond-lilies are abundant, and "spatter-docks" hold their golden globes above the quiet water in many places.