When I was a kid, I can't say for sure what my age was, maybe about 12 or 13, my father built a pond.
This pond was established in a big woods. I wonder now, why in the woods? You don't ordinarily find a pond in the woods. This woods had the most amazing smooth barked trees, I know them as a type of birch tree. My father showed us how to carve our name into the tree. The tree grew and the letters stretched and scabbed over, but you could read them for years. I liked the idea of leaving my initials and a date in the middle of a forest of trees. Who would come across my initials and wonder about the person that carved them? I wonder now if the tree was in pain when we carved upon that tree...... I love the trees, I could spend time just sitting in a great forest, listening to all the sounds that come when a person is quiet. I used to imagine being a wolf in that same woods, keeping watch in the line of pine trees on the west side of the forest. During that time, my favorite books were wolf stories! What better place to put a pond, tucked in the quiet of a forest of trees.
Building the pond caused removal of some trees. I remember seeing the roots of these big trees, it amazed me that machines could just bulldoze a tree over. Saddened me too. I think of that pond today and remember something a wise friend said just this fall. He said, "If man was no longer on earth, it would only take 170 years for the earth to recover it's space and regenerate it's self." That is two life times! He also explained, that we see it happen pretty quickly when a road is closed, it cracks, things will begin to grow in those cracks, soon more cracks appear and seeds spread or seek light from under that unused road. You see it happen when a forest fire burns everything in it's path and then something happens. Flowers will bloom, trees and other things begin to sprout and grow. Mother Earth is very amazing!
And so when I was a teen, we enjoyed this pond. Fishing in the summer and skating in the winter. We'd have big bonfires with hot chocolate. I remember inviting friends to come and skate. It was always fun, although usually very cold. You couldn't wear enough socks, my feet always got cold. Dressing in many layers gave us lots of padding, when we fell down it didn't seem to hurt that much. Of course I was young then and nothing seemed to hurt as much as it would now!
It always scared me a little, I always had a fear of the ice breaking. You could hear it crackle, even when it was a thick slab of ice. In the daytime you could see large crack lines in the pond. It made me nervous, but thankfully my Dad seemed to know when it was safe. Often the pond froze when the west wind blew cold over Ohio. Then the pond would start freezing the ripples, those ripples made ice skating impossible, it was like skating on marbles. If we had a thaw and a freeze again, the pond would melt just enough to eliminate those bumpy ripples and make a pond as smooth as glass! Or maybe it would just take the snow melting on top of the pond to make it smooth. I remember pushing snow off the ice before we could skate, all of it was cold winter fun. We'd come home refreshed and had the rosiest cheeks from the cold.
When I married we didn't go to the pond much. I never had much patience to just sit and fish. We didn't skate much either, maybe due to mild winters or lack of interest. Life happens and I didn't spend much time in that woods. Then one day, maybe 25 years after the pond was first built, I was back in the woods on my horse. The woods seemed smaller than I remembered, funny how that happens. The pond was shallow, when I remembered the deep end being more than fifteen feet deep. I figured out then that it was healing it's self. Going back to what it once was. All the leaves would fall in the pond, they would rot and become thick on the bottom, as the years went on it all turned back into a solid ground, seeds began to sprout and grow. I'm not sure today you'd ever know there had been a pond in this woods. A pond with fish and frogs and waterbugs. A pond where we ice skated with a big bond fire at one end.