We ponder the meaning of ‘pond’
by Terry Miller Shannon
When I mention our “pond problem,” Craig snorts. “Our only ‘pond problem’ is that we don’t have one!” Here’s the thing: Craig wants to build a pond. I want to build a pond. But if that sounds like we’re in harmonious agreement, you don’t know us very well. My perfect pond would be about as big as a mixing bowl. My husband’s idea of a reasonable size would easily accommodate the Olympic team practicing the butterfly stroke.
Back when Craig began talking about his pond-yen, I didn’t want one at all. Uh-uh, no way, no how. “Won’t it attract mosquitoes?” I asked. “Won’t it turn murky and mucky?” And “Gosh, if we want to look at a body of water, why don’t we drive two minutes and check out the Pacific Ocean?” Then I pointedly changed the subject.
But the subject did not stay changed. No. When we went to our friend Ted’s, he took us out back to view his jewel of a brick-rimmed pond complete with glimmering goldfish.
We met a new couple, and before our “How d’you dos” were fully exchanged, they were confiding to us about the lovely pond they had just dug. Around this time, I checked my chest to see if the words “Tell Me About Your Pond” had somehow appeared on my T-shirt.
To my dismay, I heard our new friends exclaim, “Never put in a small pond! Go for the biggest you can,” while Dear Husband flashed me meaningful looks. “What’s that?” he asked them. “I didn’t quite hear it – would you mind repeating your advice about the size of the pool?”
We went to visit Craig’s brother, who’s getting ready to … but I’m sure you can guess. He’s planning the largest pond possible.
In the meantime, I’m treated to a splashy variety of pro-pond persuasions, such as: “Mosquitoes attract birds,” and “We can plant cool water plants – like water lilies!” Finally, although I’m careful to disguise my reaction, Craig comes up with the ultimate in urging. “Terry,” he says, “we’ll have frogs.”
OK, so it’s common knowledge that I’m a total sucker for frogs and anything to do with them: polliwogs, tadpoles, tree frogs, bullfrogs, frogsong, and even just pondering the whole frog/prince theory. A pond full of frogs was nearly irresistible.
But I bit my tongue, practicing my best poker face. I would meditate on the riveting-ribbeters notion, but without committing myself by showing one flicker of enthusiasm
One day, we were shopping in one of those cavernous build/fix/remodel-your-home stores. Craig meandered off with his list. I ensconced myself on a bench in their book section with a heap of decorating and gardening books (so clever of these places to provide a sitting center for bored spouses).
Finally, after a furtive glance over my shoulder, I began flipping through a pond book. I viewed a variety of seemingly frogless ponds – and then I saw something amazing. Someone had built a waterfall/slide down his backyard hill into a pond deep enough for ecstatic riders to splash into. And the hill looked like ours.
“I see that,” a voice breathed into my ear.
I smothered a scream. I slammed the book shut. “You’re all done shopping, sweetie? Great. Let’s check out.”
Sweetie kept right on going. “We could do that! In the backyard! Actually, two or three pools with connecting waterfalls! Think of it – it would be so much fun!”
“Absolutely not!” I snapped. “One pond is plenty.”
And then, as my husband laughed in triumph, I realized he had me.
But a small pond, Craig, no bigger than the sink … OK, the bathtub.
And I mean it.
© Copyright 2002. The Christian Science Monitor
from THE HOME FORUM in the March 27, 2002 edition of Christian Science Monitor