Saturday, July 25, 2009

Peek in the Past - The Bottomless Pond

There were many places in and around our home in Knutsford, Cheshire, for a child to wander. And wander I did. In those days, it never entered my head there might be danger lurking. Besides, I had my super-charged horse, right? On days when I felt like exploring beyond our street, my old bike became Snowball (see previous post) and together we were either invincible, or invisible. Sometimes both.

I tied rope to the handlebars and pretended it was reins - hanging onto the rope instead of the handles. Until one day, the front wheel hit a rock and I flew off, landing on bare knees. Oh, the agony for weeks. It didn’t stop me from doing it again, though. It’s not funny how some children have to learn the hard way. Now, when I see someone riding a bike no-hands, I cringe for them.

A favorite haunt was several narrow lanes away, past the field, past my little country school, out through the village and down the never-ending hill to neatly hedged farmland. That hill was a dream to ride down, and a nightmare to ride up. Near the hill’s end was a field with a bottomless pond. Adults warned that children drowned in its creepy depths. Maybe that's why I was always alone there.

That pond was dark mystery; home to weird water creatures; a place where fish talked, horses drank, and I never dared paddle.

I still recall the sweet smell, though. Today, if I walk past a field of wheat stubble with its earthy grass scent, memories of that English field and the scary pond come flooding back. In those days, when more farming was done by hand, even the stooks (swathes of cut grain stalks) were fuel for the imagination. They looked like wigwams to me, and made good homes for pretend Indian mice. And the haunting shrill of plump-bellied Skylarks added a tuneful backdrop to my fantasies.

One time, I lay on my stomach and reached out with an empty jam jar from my saddlebag for a dollop of floating frogspawn, rescuing it from the jaws of the Loch Ness Monster’s daughter.

Thinking about it now, ominous shapes beneath the murky water were probably shadows of passing clouds. But to me, Miss Nessy was down there and she had an alarming appetite.

So I scooped as much slippery frogspawn as I could reach, into the jar, covered it with a once-white handkerchief and secured this with a rubber band, then set it upright in my saddlebag—which wouldn’t buckle up. Precarious, really.

I wobbled back up that hill with my slimy treasure, being extra careful to avoid bumps in the road, and sneaked my booty down cold stone steps into the cellar below our house. Growing tadpoles was great fun, especially when they turned into frogs. But more about that another day. I must return to 2009 and do some writing.

Feel free to join a Facebook group for Famous Family Nights by clicking HERE.


kersten campbell said...

I love that tiny frog picture! So cute!

JoAnn Arnold said...

Enjoyed your blog. Is that tiny frog for real?

Anne Bradshaw said...

Thanks. I found him on the internet :-)