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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: That Peaceful Pond

© Another Day in the Country

When my mother was a little girl, growing up here in Marion County, she learned to love the natural world around her. The shelter belt was her playground, with trees to climb, places to hide, birds to watch. And there was a pond on that land northwest of Ramona that had fish in it.

My grandma loved to fish in that pond and my mother’s older siblings loved to swim in that pond. However, Mom steered clear of that pond because her brothers thought she needed to learn how to swim, and when their mother wasn’t around they threw her in and scared her to death. She never learned to swim. She hated the water. But ironically, still loved the pond.

When Mom and Dad built their retirement home in southern Oregon, oh, so many years later, Mom said, “Let’s build a pond.” They were now living on 18 acres of land, covered with pasture, framed by trees, a pond was such a good idea.

Strangely, my father, who rarely asked for advice, asked me one day in the early stages of their planning, “where do you think we should put the road coming into this property?” and then said, “and we’ve been thinking about putting in a pond.” I was rather surprised by his question and honored at the challenge of choosing the very best spot for this rather long driveway.

“Let’s wind the road a little,” I said after we’d tramped the land, “and isn’t this low area just perfect for a pond?”

A year later, the house set snuggled on the rise with a storybook, curving lane leading up to it. And, there was a pond, fed by a natural spring. You could look out the “picture window” (remember those?) and see the sunset reflected in the water.

And so the pond became part of the news that Mother wrote letters about. “There are geese on the pond,” she’d say each spring, “I hope they stay.” And they did. We’d hear reports about goslings hatching and goslings missing and eventually all of them flying away.

My kids loved that pond. We made a raft that they could push around—the pond wasn’t all that deep. They’d drape themselves with weeds that grew in the pond and pretend they were wildlings.

When my mother came back to Ramona, at the tail end of her life, we decided she needed a pond. Tooltime Tim saw an article in his Handyman magazine about how to build a self-sustaining pond, and shortly after she moved into the house, we made the pond in her back yard, with a stream running down to it. The pond was a bathtub in comparison to the pond she’d left behind in Oregon; but it was symbolic, and it was beautiful in its own way. We hauled in rocks and planted plants and filled it with goldfish. She had her pond.

Now that Mom is gone, I’m the pond watcher. Let’s be realistic here, I was always the pond watcher and the pond caretaker. Even though this is supposedly a self-sustaining pond, it has to be watched (as all pond owners know). Ponds of this nature are a lot of work. My sister shakes her head at my dedication and worries, when I’m traveling somewhere, that something will happen to that pond—or IN that pond—while I’m gone.

This morning, I sat beside the pond drinking my tea. I was adding some water, to the pond, not the tea. This time of year the plants want to take over the pond, diverting the stream, and I have to intervene. Some of the fish are HUGE. This spring, I cataloged the fish because I feared I was losing some. I counted (only the big ones) and drew pictures. Luckily, other than a snake (who moved in temporarily) and a few frogs, the fish have been safe and the pond is a pretty tranquil spot. In fact, it is a “just right” spot for nibbling on toast and having another cup of tea on a fall day in the country.

Last modified Sept. 18, 2014

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