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.
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.
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.