Friday, March 18, 2011

The Pond

Termites in the walls, icky silverfish in the shower and spiders in the kitchen. Two kids, oblivious to it all, went barreling out the door of grandma's ocean cabin and down the rotting, wormy steps to the back woods. There they discovered The Pond during a mission to get as lost as possible before they were called to dinner.

They'd slept well, after a day of glorious sand, sun and waves. Grandma's falling down, white and red creation of boards and nails was the best thing that ever happened, ever in the history of the universe. They were at ease. Nothing bad ever happened when they were there, except that one time when the antique toaster burned two slices of cinnamon-raisin bread. Everything about that place was so different from their home in Seattle, with the notable exception of the spiders.

The Seattle house had a creepy basement and the furniture couldn't withstand messes. The dog was stuck in the yard, not chasing down birds on a mile of slimy, seaweedy sand. There was gardening and mowing and vacuuming to be done. Such cruelties! At the cabin, a single sweep of a broom sent whatever was on the floor right out into the tall reeds to be eaten by whatever lives in tall reeds.

The Pond was a monumental discovery. It was hidden from the town by overgrown blackberry brambles and fallen trees. It's green algae surface broke in places to trace where ducks had been, and the lily pads were huge. Three generations of frogs could make a home of just one.

Between The Pond and the hills were massive, old growth trees. Many were toppled and being nursed upon by newer varieties. "Nature is always changing," said mom or dad.

After a few minutes of observation, the boy and girl decided The Pond was inaccessible and unnavigable. It was too deep, and the clouds of mosquitoes were like force fields, keeping out the enemy that was Them. But it was stare-worthy, and so they stared for hours until mom's loudest voice broke over the top of the frog chirps. "Dinner!!!"

Should they tell mom and dad about The Pond? Oh, why not. They probably wouldn't believe it, and so the boy and girl simultaneously delivered the exciting news, knowing they could still have their secret but without the guilty feeling of having to sneak.

"Yes, we know about The Pond," said mom or dad. "It's going to be all filled in with dirt to build new, expensive cabins that aren't falling down like this one. Kind of a shame, really, but this land will be worth more in case grandma needs to sell it."

Okay, THAT was the worst thing that ever happened at grandma's cabin.


  1. The property where I had my "Huck Finn" childhood was later replaced by hella track homes. On the far end there was a reservoir for the nursery that shared our back fence. It's all gone now.



  2. Thankfully we still have our kid memories, right? Sigh.


  3. "Getting as lost as possible before being called to dinner" is literally how I felt every summer morning. My Chicago version of the pond was a drainage ditch behind a factory.

  4. Ooh. A bio-hazard! So jealous.

  5. You bring this place and the deep yearnings of childhood alive for me. I like the tension between the kids and the parents, who, of course, are bound to have a different view of the pond. This piece is just as vivid as Walden, and considerably more interesting.