As we move through life, we reflect often. We all have a place from our pasts that gave us solitude, a place where you were allowed to just be a kid.  I had one of those places growing up. Located just down the hill from my old elementary school, and up the street from my old house. A place where fond memories were made, a place where I felt safe. Close your eyes, go back in time, when life was innocent and listen to the sounds of silence.

The grass was usually up to my waist in mid-summer. I walked slowly and felt the thick, dry grass tickle my legs. The air blasted like a hot furnace. When I stopped, no air moved,  which magnified the loud, whining, buzz-saw sound of the cicadas. I crept down the foot-wide, dirt path. Griffin’s Pond was nestled at the bottom of the field.

A crooked path circled the pond. A ceiling of tree branches leafed out overhead, and it felt like you were walking in a dark, green tunnel.  Through the towering white pine trees, I glanced at our smoky fire pit waiting for me to return. The burnt remains of sticks mixed with the white pines smelled like old mints.

The thick brush and fat, brown clusters of cat-o-nine tails reflected a mirror image. Green water lilies with tiny, white flowers floated in the muck as dragonflies hovered over the pond like a formation of helicopters. A bullfrog’s head popped up out of the water and stared at me. I saw algae dripping off of his shiny head. Water striders skimmed across the water like miniature pontoon boats leaving a trail behind them.

I sat down on the cool bank of the pond and felt the damp dirt through my jeans. The sun illuminated the shallow water and I peered to the bottom. Clouds of dirt puffed as the sun fish darted by. Minnows gulping for food made a plopping noise and left bubbles on the surface. I pelted the water with a handful of pebbles that swooshed as they tore holes in the algae, disturbing the silence. A box turtle about the size of my hand slid into the water, torpedoed down, and hid under a log. I grabbed a handful of water and slime. It felt like thick soup and smelled like the garbage under our kitchen sink when the lid is off.

The sun danced like sparklers on the water. I squinted my eyes and felt my tan cheeks stretch.Two brown ducks in the tall reeds took off. They flew about five feet above the water where their crystal clear reflections made them look like bags of flour. Their flapping wings blurred like fans. They landed like sea planes halfway across the pond,  hitting the water with the sound of hissing steam. The force of their landing sent waves rippling in every direction. I stood up.

Over the small hill on the far side of the pond, I heard the cars on the parkway zooming by like bees. Their sound wrecked the solitude of the pond. I sat down, and the cars vanished from my sight. I was hidden again from civilization, in my own private world of Griffin’s Pond. I looked at the refections in the water. I closed my eyes, the world went away. Years later, I went back to visit. This time with a blank canvas, paints and brushes. Griffin’s Pond stayed the same as I remembered it, but I had changed. How do you capture a lifetime of memories with a stroke of a brush? One stroke at a time. Can you hear it?  Life was good. 

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