Your Pond: A Perfect SettingYour Pond: A Perfect Setting Your pond is more than about fishing, it's about life. It's as though water demands truthfulness.
By Beth Lahaie
Most people know timing is important, especially when you want to have an important discussion. You wait until you've both been fed, watered, and hopefully had a little rest before starting the conversation. Settings are important, too. Sometimes the kitchen table offers the right atmosphere and workspace. A quiet talk around a fire pit at night might present the right ambiance. Long walks provides opportunity to solve a problem. My favorite setting for deep and meaningful conversation is a pond or lake.
Water allows breathing space in my soul and gives assent to clarity, which makes for honest and open discussions. It's as though water demands truthfulness.
One day my friend, Jen McGill Sadera and I discussed this phenomenon. As we talked, she shared about summers spent at Lake George in upstate New York, and then told me a poignant story of a life-changing moment of honesty that transpired while sitting with a friend on rocks at the edge of his backyard pond.
"I spent my summers at Lake George with my grandparents, who owned a camp there (that's what we call the houses, but they're honest-to- goodness Adirondack fishing camps, which inspired the whole rustic Adirondack style of decorating). I have spent every summer of my life in Pilot Knob, Lake George.
"My aunt and uncle now live in that house that was once my grandparents' place, and my parents and I bought the camp right next door 13 years ago, so my kids got to spend every summer up there, too, and now we have the whole family compound thing going on (a modest compound, to be sure). The man who built our house also built my grampa's (now my aunt's) in 1950.
"When I was eleven years old, my brother and I met a group of kids and their dad on the beach one day. This family was taking their newly crafted raft for a test run. They were delighted to discover that it floated to perfection, and in their excitement, they turned to my brother and me, and asked us if we wanted to hop on it with them. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship with the Greens.
"I always found the simple, laid-back lifestyle of the Green family in their 100-year-old rambling farmhouse so comfortable, and as if to prove the point, the house sat right next to the beach on a point that was chartered on the Lake George map and so aptly named: Point Comfort.
"The mom, Terry, was a schoolteacher, and a natural with kids. Many was the day she'd set up arts-and-crafts stations in her front yard, and invite every kid on the Eastern side of the lake to paint Coke bottles with stained-glass glazes or engage in cake-baking instruction, frosting flying in every direction.
"The father of the family, Brad, sold sailboats for a living, so Sunfish sails in every color of the rainbow mingled with the pine needles strewn across the shore and docks of their property. He'd bravely command a fleet of prepubescent sailors out into the open water, slyly tying the boats together so we could never stray too far from him.
"Perhaps one of my favorite times of day with the Green family was the early morning, when the four kids of the clan—Corey, oldest and the only girl, Marshall, my age, and two younger brothers, Jeff and Davey, would gather up all the local kids (most of whom had slept over in their supercool sleeping porch, which was a second-story porch sans the screen but filled from pillar to posts with mattresses so that the entire space was one giant bed) and feed the ducks at the backyard pond. The serenity of those early morning feeding sessions, broken only by rustling bread bags and hungry, vocal ducks, had an indescribable quality, much as the misty, early morning light, which I can recall but never adequately convey.
"From their lovely, lived-in, divan-strewn living room to their welcoming, engaging attitude, they made me feel like I belonged in their soothing circle of friendship at an unsure time in my life. As an adolescent, I was skinny to the point of scrawny, and felt there was nothing the least bit remarkable about me. I wasn't particularly funny, attractive or smart. I felt awkward and insignificant, but none of them seemed to notice my glaring deficiencies.
"Of all the love and warm memories I harbor for the pond and surrounding lake during daylight, and all the wacky activities we engaged in, from playing cops and robbers around the property, to water fights with Terry's pots and pans, to striking out one morning across the lake in a rubber raft, it is the night time on the water that leaves the most significant impression.
"One night in particular, I was sixteen years old, and morphing out of homeliness. Used to being invisible to everyone but the Greens and my own family, I was unsettled by the sudden attention others were giving me. I sat on a point of rocks, overlooking the glass-smooth surface of the pond one evening, pouring out my heart to my friend, Marshall, whom I had a secret crush on, when he interrupted me by softly saying, 'I love you.'
"I stared at him in the moonlight, noting how the glowing, muted white light beating down on us gave him an aura of otherworldliness, and I felt a shiver run through me.
"'What?' I'd sputtered automatically, regretting the harsh sound of my voice even as I said it, but I was instantly suspicious. Why did he say that? Did he expect me to react? To rush into his arms?
"I love you,' he repeated, softly. Dispassionately even. His gaze never wavered from the mountaintop off in the distance.
"I realized he expected nothing of me. He just wanted me to know how he felt. He never tried to kiss me. We never dated. He was always a friend. There was a purity in that moment, and in our feelings for each other, as soft, and steady and enduring as the ancient pond before us. In the stillness of the water I found the most content moment I'd known up to that point in my young life. He thought I was enough. Enough to be companionable. Enough to be loved.
"I've kept in touch with that lovely family through the years, and I've had the privilege of watching each of my friends from that loving clan create families of their own. They've all met my husband and kids. It's a precious connection that we've been able to maintain. I was able to spend some time with Marshall this summer, though never enough for my liking. He turned into the kind, caring man I knew he was destined to be, and I enjoy being around him. Every now and then I toy with the idea of asking him if he recalls that faraway night, the evening he made a self-conscious, awkward girl feel validated, and special, but I never say anything about it. Just recalling it is enough for me. Occasionally I'll wander to the pond out behind his house, and I'll remember. The memory never fails to make me smile."
Reprinted with permission from Pond Boss Magazine
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