Beside the Big Pool

It’s been a while since I blogged. I’ve changed the tagline, because we’ve moved. Now, we live next to the Big Pool.

That’s what my sister called the pond when we were small.

Last fall, my husband and I sold our house in New Hampshire, and we moved in with my elderly father. He’d lost his wife to cancer, and, while he was able to look after himself, he was lonely and sad.

So, we left our home, gave away nearly everything we owned, and we moved into a little bedroom with one small closet.

And this…IMG_4960

The pond.

I spent my childhood on this pond. We didn’t live here, but my mom piled kids and dogs into the old station wagon, and we drove through the woods to a tiny cabin–one room with a wood stove and a sink with a hand pump. How we loved that pump, my sister and I vying for a turn to bring water up from the pond and let it run into the makeshift sink.

Then we swam. Pandy, the golden retriever, tried to rescue us by grabbing onto our hair and dragging us toward shore. Tripper, the dalmation, was willing to hunt frogs in the shallows, but swimming wasn’t her thing.

We played on a wooden raft, one with near-zero flotation, so it rested an inch beneath the water’s surface. It reared from the deep when we all stood in one spot, then crashed beneath the waves when we ran as one to the opposite edge.

My husband and I moved here last fall. October was glorious. I swam every day, well into November, when the water turned cold but still suckered me into one more dive. When finally the water froze solid, I shoveled a skating path around the pond’s perimeter. Two miles. And we skated, even though the ice was rough, and we fell quite a bit.

When the ice melted, and the storms came, and trees fell all around us, I paddled to the center of the pond and took pictures of the devastation. My favorite sugar maple uprooted itself and crashed into the water. No syrup this year. But I buried its root ball, and I water it every day, and I hope it might find a way to survive.IMG_4538

Spring came slowly, but it finally arrived. One day in late April, while I was away, taking my sister for cancer treatment, my dad called 911. When I got home, there was a police car at the top of the driveway, and I knew.

I parked behind it and ran.

EMTs were there, rolling my dad from the house to the ambulance. He spent three days in the ICU. Then, he left us.

So, every morning, I walk down to the Big Pool, and I dive in. The waters close over my head and rush past my skin, seeming to blow right through me. My sadness lifts, and the years wash away. I’m nine years old, holding my big sister’s hand, making the raft rear up like a dolfin, and forever vying for my turn at the pump.

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9 thoughts on “Beside the Big Pool

  1. I love this. It reminded me of my childhood living in a New England summer “camp” year round until my parents could afford to rebuild it into a real house with running water and heat.

    • Thank you so much! This makes me happy.

      The original camp belonged to my dad’s uncle. He ran the YMCA camp across from us, and every evening, once the campers were in bed, he’d paddle home to spend the night with his wife. When my dad was a kid, and he went to the YMCA camp, my grandmother stayed in the cabin and kept watch over him.

      Once my dad’s uncle retired, he sold the little cabin to my parents. Eventually, the land around it was developed, and a road went in, and my parents built a house on the old foundation and moved here.

      It’s the water that brings me back. The sound of the paddles moving through it, the rush of a dive. It’s magic.

  2. I am so glad you’re blogging again. I miss the tales from the blue barn, especially stories about Louise. But,she is telling me her stories personally now. Thank you for sharing her with me, I love seeing that hopeful, inquisitive face every single morning. My world is a much better place with her in it. I am sorry about your dad but I am also glad you got to spend time with him in the months before he passed. I am sure that meant the world to him. Hope to see you again soon!

    • There is something very special about the spotted wonder. It gives me peace, knowing she is safe with you, stealing your heart the way she stole mine.

      And we need a bogbash!!!! At the pond! 🙂

  3. Thank you Nancy for being such a gifted and lovely person. Your kindness springs from your heart and keeps the world turning in the right way. My heart goes out to you on the passing of your father, but you made every moment a precious one for him at the end of his journey.
    To hear that you gave away so much along with your darling husband is awesome. To hear of your splendid ice skating around the lake, what a sight for sore eyes! Your thoughts and tale are precious and beautiful, bringing a paradox of sad and happy thoughts into one variegated bouquet. I read your story aloud to my husband, who was touched and we had a tear falling softly.
    It is lovely to see you back online and I hope your health is thriving now. We look forward to more extraordinary and softly beautiful posts. I hope your book is also still selling copies. (One with the girl and masses of hair)

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