Thursday, June 12, 2008

All lakes and streams are public

Emerson said something about land ownership being illusory.

Water ownership is false too.

On Tuesday afternoon I pedaled my Raleigh Grand Sport to an appointment for an MRI for my loose ankle in Farmington, two towns west of Hartford. I showed up sweaty, twitching, and promptly applied a handful of Gold Bond powder to my crotch before entering the waiting room, grabbing a clipboard of forms from a zombie at reception window, and disgracing a chair with my sweaty backside.

I had passed a small lake on the Tunxis Rd. and decided I would swim there on the way home from my appointment. I realized this lake was probably hemmed in on all sides by some sort of neighborhood "association" who thinks they own the lake, and there would be no good lakeside access for the public. I was right. A bicyclist could conceivably park on the side of the road, on the north side of the lake, and jump in right there, but it's not exactly scenic with the roadside weeds and rock fill. Besides, the wind on this day was blowing all water-borne detritus and organic matter to that shore. Instead, I ventured south down a side road, past a lot of nice houses and people watering their lawns, to the neighborhood "association" beach. There was a sign that said you may be charged with trespassing for using this beach without being a "member", but I figured nobody would care since there were just a handful of kids there and one older woman walking around the grounds. Having shed my shirt and shoes (I figured my skinny dip routine would have been pushing it), I was calf-deep when the woman asked me if I was a member. I said "nope" and she said "that's an honest answer." She warned be that someone would be checking these things in the near future.

I had a nice little swim and rode back home to the Beat, reflecting on my membership in the association of human beings who like swimming and bicycling.


El Presidente de China said...

In some states, including your native Maine, all bodies of water over ten acres in area are considered public. My legal research suggests that Connecticut does not adhere to this doctrine, known as the "Great Ponds" doctrine, but we do have a law making it illegal for people to have a white cane if they're not blind.

chillwill said...

I am pretty sure all rivers and streams are public in this state.

Ponds and lakes no, no matter what size.

but all rivers...including Hartford's Underground river are public and you have the right to navigate or swim.

Brendan said...

the cane law isn't that old.

Nomad said...

At least the lady didn't call you out, just warned you to watch out for next time.

I can see both ways on this. On the one hand, it is a public utility. On the other hand, if the association is paying for upkeep (weeding, rebuilding the beach when it erodes, etc.) then I can see them wanting those who use the lake to contribute toward it.

Brendan said...

it's funny. homeowners in this association (you're talking about wood pond, right?) ruined the pond twenty years ago with intense application of chemlawn and only in the last 5-8 years has it become not totally disgusting.

if you ruin a water body, what right should you have to decide who gets to use it?

Caitlynne said...

Come on! The reality is we do all own the pond. It's just that we've let these weird structures tell us that we don't in order to privelidge a bunch of land for other people to "own". Isn't that a crazy thing if you think about it? Ownership? It's kind of like borders- you know? Or wages? Where the hell do we come up with this shit? Any structure that keeps a sweaty biker from having a refreshing dip is lame.

Secondly, I'm concerned for the fishes who choked on the Gold Bond powder that came off of his undies. Just kidding!!

Caitlynne said...

And we all know what that cane law is really about: It's about the man keeping Boyz II Men down.

We shall overcome, and it shall start at karaoke during Progressive Happy Hour, and we shall hear Hannah sing more of their tunes.

(if you too like karaoke, Boyz II Men, or Red Rock and beer, you should come! Tuesday nights at 9:30 at Kenny's Red Rock Tavern, corner of Capitol and Broad St. Hartford, CT)

Brendan said...

i'm all for wages. the last time I tried to buy anything with good will or peace on earth, I just got punched in the face.

Karma said...

Well if there was no ownership there would be no need for wages. However, I do kind of appreciate the ownership of one thing, beer. Ill share the ownership of many things, my bike, my gear, my food, ill even share my beer, but its hard to own the same beer as someone else. Makes for difficult consumption. Ponds, well thats just whack.

Rich said...

Oh karma...we opened with Ralph Waldo, so I'll close with wise words from Archie Bunker:

"You can never buy beer, you just rent it."

Or more temporaneously, Family Guy in song from the excellent Willy Wonka spoof:

"Go on buds, drink my suds,
'til you've reached that pure inebriation.
Though the beer, may be free...
you're just renting it from me."