By Kathy Fila, a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member

Our 24-year-old son came over today with youthful enthusiasm and energy, claiming he would get the pond ready to skate on. Last year, to my delight, he and his girlfriend (now his wife) did the same thing.

Why is this a moment? It blesses me to my core. For over 20 years, my husband and I spent many winter afternoons using shovels to clear the pond so the kids could skate after school. It became my aerobic exercise for the day. What a treat it was to have our little sanctuary of winter fun, and now as we approach our senior years, our youngest son is taking it over and continuing the tradition—albeit in a different manner. Rather than shoveling, he tows the snowblower, mounted on the snow scoop, and pulls them both behind the snowmobile to take down to the pond. After removing the snow, he cuts a hole in the pond and spreads a fresh sheen of ice over its entirety with five-gallon buckets.

That pond has such precious memories. The children and I have had picnics on its shore in the spring before the mosquitoes hatch. One Father’s Day, we spent the day crafting a log raft. We have “fished” for leaves in the surrounding swamp. There have been turtle-catching days, especially for the elusive old man snapper. There was even a campout that my husband had with the two older boys in a tent on the pond’s shore while spring peepers and bullfrogs hammered in their ears. He didn’t get any sleep that night.

Many children have shared the joys of our little slice of nature as the kids have brought friends to share in the fun. My oldest son had the “best night of his life” and the “worst night of his life” on that pond within a span of 20 minutes. What started as an exciting night of potential hockey with brooms and a block of wood for a puck was quickly terminated shortly after we stepped onto the ice. Not only were we going to skate by the light of the moon, but stepping onto the ice made the loudest crack I’d ever heard. Images of being swallowed up in the dark, murky water took over my mind and ended our adventure—Ahh—the disappointments of youth.

There have even been a few magical winters when the swamp froze along with the pond. My daughter and youngest son would skate with me throughout the woods, circling trees and bushes in what felt like a magical fairyland. My husband and I bought this 12-acre parcel 25 years ago. That pond and its surrounding swamp have been our little escape from the world’s hubbub. It has felt like our own special ecosystem that has welcomed various birds and wildlife and given us a peaceful reminder of the beauty of God’s creation. The kids have all grown and have homes of their own now, but the memories remain. And now it’s time for me to go as my youngest has returned with the announcement, “The pond’s ready to skate on, Ma.” Let me grab my skates and head on down!

About The Author: Kathy is a retired physical therapist. She enjoys many outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, camping, birdwatching, and cross-country skiing with her husband and friends. She and her husband are beginning the grandparent stage of their lives with two beautiful granddaughters.