The pond in the night

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WAKING FOR A spell in the middle of the night presents one with three options:

First, go right back to sleep. This is preferred. Second is chewing on a minor problem that, due to its appearing in the middle of the night, magnifies spectacularly in significance. This is your least desirable path. For me, there is a third.

Go to Wavering Pond.

I lived on my maternal grandparents’ 500-acre farm in southwest Georgia from the age of six months until I was on the brink of 7, which is when we moved to Florida.

I regularly traveled the 200 miles to the farm for visits, first to my grandparents and later to my parents who returned there to live after my grandmother died during a visit to New Orleans, and they inherited the place. My mother was an only child.

They sold the farm and moved to Atlanta in the mid-1980s.

That farm was wonderful. There were huge fields of cotton, corn and peanuts. There were Hereford cows and a grove of pecan trees. Then, due to a government program, that all vanished (not the pecan trees) and was replaced by pines.

The best part of the farm was Wavering Pond which was about a quarter-mile behind the old house, a short and easy walk. That’s not it in the photo, but that’s precisely how it looked. The pond was full of cypress trees that grew right in the water.

My grandparents always kept a rowboat there and a paddle. It was a rustic affair, a little leaky, but it worked well for sliding over the surface or for fishing. I never fished. I explored. I spent hours over the decades paddling alone and slowly across that pond, and it was a very large pond, two or three acres or so.

It was always quiet and, except right out in the middle, a bit dark and creepy. There were owls and crows. Long ago, perhaps in my 20s — I don’t recall exactly — I dreamed of building a home there just like Thoreau, a place to live alone and not be bothered by people.

Additionally, it was going to be an underground home, dug into the hillside that rose up from the pond’s dark, clear waters, dark due to the many cypress trees. It’s an idea that still appeals to one’s hermit nature.

So now, in the middle of the night when I awaken, I visit the pond. I’m in the rowboat alone always, looking over the side, seeing bass and brim, the occasional snake and turtle. And I go back to sleep drifting among cypress knees.

14 thoughts on “The pond in the night

  1. Long ago, in another century, I learned the art of mentally placing myself where I wished I was, this to endure a particular difficult event I needed to experience. Probably the most useful skill I ever developed

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  2. Thank you for a beautiful story. Stew and I for many years had a lakeside cabin about 30 miles north of Chicago that was almost a tar-paper shack when we bought it, and which we then set out to “fix” and “improve,” not realizing that by tarting it up we were ruining the charm that originally attracted us to it. Add that to my list of regrets. Oh well.

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        1. Ms. Shoes: While I was wondering to myself what a couple of Chicago queens might have done to a country shack, I was far too polite to wonder out loud, and now you’ve gone and done it! Oh, dear.

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  3. Felipe: My escape used to be a line of pelicans skimming above ocean swells just offshore. I have lost the image, and I can’t summon it anymore. My meditation skills need some work.

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    1. Kris: That’s an improved variation of the old routine of counting sheep. Good luck, however, with improving your meditation skills. It comes in handy and can even improve your health.

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  4. I hope everyone has a “Pond in the Night” to go to when things are rough or just not right inside. Myself, I have several and they are wonderful. Thanks for the reminder of where to go at times.

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  5. Great, great story.

    In spite of your tendency to destroy every living green plant within the walls of the Hacienda, you do have a soft spot for nature (tongue firmly in cheek, amigo, as I know you sometimes miss sarcasm).

    I wish I had the ability to conjure up a special place in those moments. I’ve been working on it.

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    1. Ray: Gracias, but I think it’s subtlety that I often miss. Not so much sarcasm. Well, that’s what my mama used to say. As for destroying greenery within the walls of the Hacienda, I’m not done yet. There’s still too much grass and that cursed loquat tree lurks out there. And my wife is now complaining about the size of the aloe vera bushes, which are huge. She wants them gone. They don’t bother me though, just her.

      As for a special place to visit in the darkest, grimmest nights, gotta imagine. There’s a place waiting for you. For a man who’s wandered so often in the woods, I would think someplace would come to you fairly easily.

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      1. One would think. But for someone who has spent a great deal of time in the woods it can become a matter of no longer “being able to see the forest for the trees.”

        There was this little spot in western Montana that looked a whole lot like paradise, but it was only a couple of hours on a day-trip a few years back. Hope to see it again at a slower pace some day.

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