I wrote this piece in 2003. It placed second in a contest on a pond blog I followed. Since we are having a rather cold, snowy Winter this year, I thought I’d repost it here today. Yes, I wrote the piece in November, but it seems somehow appropriate for February.
A Pond In Winter
It’s November in New Hampshire. The sky is gray, the weather is raw and winter is most definitely in the air. There is a bit of snow on the ground, and the promise of more to come before spring returns. Everything, including the pond in the backyard, is closed and silent, awaiting the return of warmth and green.
And yet, there is a beauty in the winter pond. Not the lush, vibrant green beauty of the warmer weather, but a stark, clean beauty that is not apparent under spring and summer’s cover of growth. Most of the plants are out of the pond, tender tropicals that require the relative warmth and light of the basement to survive the cold. But a few remain, stalwart, hardy individuals that brush off the cold with dormant nonchalance, awaiting the signals of sun and warmer temperatures to send up new growth. For now, they sleep in the deepest water, dark, barely seen reminders of the wonders of the seasonal cycles of life.
Around the pond, too, the plants have changed with the season. Perennials, like the garden mum, raise clean, skeletal stalks out of the snow cover. The vinca that creeps along the waterfall is a splash of bright green and cream, incongruous against the bare branches and clean outlines of the rest of the garden. Thyme, another evergreen, is a deep green mound, another plant whose special beauty stands out in winter.
Even the water changes at this time of year. It appears dark, probably because the sky is gray and dark above it so often. The inky depth even looks cold. Standing at the edge of the pond, looking into the almost impenetrable darkness, broken now and again by a flash of orange and white as a fish darts among the cover of bottom plants, one seems to be peering into a well of Winter.
Frosty days mean the heater must go into the water, to keep it from freezing over and killing the fish. But even this ever so mundane a device helps add to the beauty of the winter pond. The warmth from the heater causes fog to rise off the pond, reflecting the half-light of early morning and the lights surrounding the pond edge at night. Like fairy mist from some magical water garden, ghost tendrils of mist rise from the surface of the water, dancing slowly upward to disappear into the cold air. It is almost as if the pond breathes, each breath a frosty reminder that life remains.
Winter is a time of special beauty in a pond, but only if you look closely. It is too easy to think only of dead plants, bare water and fish that have dropped out of sight into the depths of the colder water. But there is beauty there, waiting to be seen and appreciated until spring comes again to renew our havens of water.
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