There are a few ponds at my old Limrock home. One’s never been much else but a big mud-hole. Oh, there are fish in it alright, but a mud-hole it will always look like. Daddy tried to put some pigs in it once. If I remember correctly he thought they might pack down the mud so that it’d hold more water. It didn’t work though, and when Thelma and Louise —the pigs — were sent to slaughter I gave up pork for some time.
There’s another that is fed by the spring. It’s a pretty little thing. Calm and serene, surrounded by pine trees and inhabited with snakes, frogs, fish, beaver and probably a lot else.
And there’s a new one. I haven’t spent any time there, but there are some ducks that quack around in it.
And then there is the big pond. In the wintertime its water is almost blue. It’s so inviting that one cold November day, years ago, I couldn’t help myself and I slid right in. I ran all the way home in my bare feet, which, shocked from the cold, felt more like blocks of concrete.
On Saturday me, the boy and my dad went fishing there. It was a nice day, and we were reeling in the bass and crappie one right after the other.
I begged my dad to let us cook them outside over an open fire. I’ve seen it done a hundred times on those television shows I watch, and it always looks so appetizing. Daddy didn’t agree about the appetizing part and said we could cook it on a fire, but we’d do so in an iron skillet with grease and cornmeal.
I felt sorry for some of the fish and threw them back, but still our old red cooler was getting pretty full. It was one of those coolers that has wheels and a long handle. Its lid was missing, and Dad sat it on the back of the four wheeler. He and the boy cruised around the pond from one fishing spot to another. The boy much prefers riding a four wheeler to fishing, so this was agreeable to him.
After a while, Daddy suggested a change of scenery. He wanted to move over to the little pond that is fed by the spring. They drove over, and I made the walk alone and enjoyed the sloshing of mud under my feet.
The fish would not bite. Daddy said the fish never would bite there. I said it was because the water was too cold, and we were so close to the little waterfall that I love so much that I decided to brave the snakes and head over.
I waded through a very thick barrage of mud and spring water and then tiptoed through a little field of tall weeds. I made it to that cold spring water. I washed my hands and face. A baptizing of sorts.
I was identifying some plants when I heard it. The big roar of a little engine. The turning of tires that weren’t going anywhere. As the boy used to say when he was littler, “Stuuuuuuuuck.”
They had tried to cross the spring, but the recent flooding had washed so much mud up that it would have been impossible. There my dad was hitting the gas with all his might and digging the old four wheeler in deeper and deeper.
The boy was delighted. He laughed and laughed as mud splattered to and fro.
I laughed too. My dad would have all the confidence in the world against the biggest mud-hole on earth. There’s something comforting about it.
We all made the long walk home, got the truck and pulled that ol’ red Honda out.
And all those fish? Well, it ended up being a catch and release kind of day. I guess luck was with them when the lidless cooler toppled off into the spring during all the commotion, and they all lived to tell about it.
Danielle Wallingsford Kirkland is a former Sentinel staff writer and correspondent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.