Saturday, January 14, 2017

Memories of a Pond

Not that long ago, home was a small loft apartment overlooking a pond.  While I spent just three years there, I will always treasure the experience. I'd always known that a fresh body of water had a personality all its own. But it wasn't until I lived near one, where I could observe it every single day, that I learned just how varied all its emotions could be.

It was autumn when I first arrived there, and I spent many hours looking outside the large window that had wisely been placed on the side of the building facing the pond. On nice days, I sat on my little deck, high above the ground and from where I had a perfectly expansive view of the ever-changing water. Some days, it was calm and still as a mirror, and others, as rough and choppy as the sea, its tiny wavelets capped with white foam as the wind whipped the surface into a frenzy.

During my first winter there, I watched as the pond froze over and less and less blue water was visible. Then, when the snow moved in, it was as if the area were just another vast field across which nothing moved save for the few souls who ventured out to poke holes in the ice through which to lure fish. On sunny windy days, the snow swept across in blue-white ripples. And at night, lights from the opposite shore illuminated the darkened expanse in large v-shaped swaths.

Spring saw the pond opening up again, shedding its winter layer in large sheets that slammed up against each other until the temperature rose just enough to erase them entirely. Summer  was a lush green experience, with vegetation in the form of trees and low shrubs draping over  all its shores as far as I could see. And the wildlife that flocked there was immeasurably wonderful to behold: great blue herons, mallard ducks, Canada geese, common loons, and kingfishers plied the waters daily, while bald eagles, ospreys, pileated woodpeckers, hawks and ravens flew over guarding their domain. Smaller birds flocked to my feeders daily, and one summer, a phoebe made her nest right under the deck, trusting me enough to rear her young close by.

Deer, foxes, raccoons and skunks were also frequent visitors. And once, I watched patiently as a turtle made its way laboriously toward the water, its short legs pushing it along over piles of dead leaves and protruding rocks. Squirrels made their homes in the surrounding trees, while chipmunks engineered their kingdom beneath the soil, popping up at random places and chattering to each other from hole to hole.

I took hundreds of photos there, penned many words, took many walks, and thought many thoughts. Those three years were an education like no other, and I graduated with the honor of having been there to see it all. Moonlight casting its haunting glow across a dark glassy surface, wake ripples left by boats, and sun stars sparkling on the water are all among the many memories I will cherish forever.

I've been fortunate to the point where I wanted to share my experiences with others. Many people never know the joy of living in such a place, and there was a time when it was only a dream of mine as well. But dreams have a way of coming true, as I've learned, and their stories are only improved in the re-telling.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Starting Over...Again

I catch it every year. No, not spring fever. It's much too early for that. Or is it?

This is, rather, a sort of prequel to spring fever that I get every year about this time. The holidays are blessedly behind me again, and then there is that gap during which there is nothing at all to celebrate. So, I start celebrating the slow approach of the next season.

Unlike fall, which I also love, spring offers me more options. I can start browsing through seed catalogs and planning what I'm going to order, which isn't much anymore, as all I do now is grow things in containers. But still, it fulfills that need to grow SOMETHING, anything, that has never left me no matter where I've lived. I can also start thinking along the lines of starting some plants indoors. My options here are once again few, as I get sunlight only through the kitchen windows. Whereas my cat loves to perch on the table to look out the window, setting some pots up there is not an option. Not only are they in both our ways, but she loves to dig in the dirt. As an indoor cat, that's quite a treat for her, as is nibbling on the first few green things that appear above the soil once the seeds have germinated.

My only viable option to get things going on is the counter that spans the space beneath my other kitchen window. The window itself isn't high, but it is long, and the sill is wide enough to support a row of small pots. It does entail removing my decorative cobalt blue and clear glass collectibles. But it's a trade-off, as most things in life worth doing are. I can also perch small pots on top of storage canisters where they will also benefit from the bright sunlight. There, I can pretty safely get things going and keep them going long enough for them to be ready to put outside once the weather warms above 40 degrees F. at nights. Not only am I getting my garden ready, I also have signs of new life to enjoy inside until April. And the cat seems not to have discovered that cache or is just not interested.

It'll probably be my old reliables again this year: marigolds (of course), zinnias, and nasturtiums. Some parsley and maybe some basic...I saved lots of seeds from last year's plants, so that will save me a little money. Otherwise, I'll shop the dollar stores and treat myself to one extravagant purchase from a company like Burpee or Gurney's. That kind of makes it official that the growing season is once again off to a start. And as the old saying goes, "There is no time like the present!"

Indeed, there is not!