The November landscape was beige and brown, and once-soft grass crunched as we crossed the hill toward the pond. We went down to the water’s edge where we could see the ice crystals in the mud and the thin layer of winter forming around the pond’s edge.
“It’s coming!” we shouted.
Then each of us broke off a thin piece of ice and popped it onto our tongue. The wind and cold whistled up our jacket sleeves and down the space near our collars, but we didn’t mind too much. We made our way along the shore pushing past the stiff, brittle remains of summer. We served as the ride for the hitch-hiking seeds of fall; while the thorns on the wild berry branches scratched our cheeks and the back of our hands.
We tromped along the shore to the dam at the edge of the pond near the road that fall, when I was nine or ten. Our father built the dam that formed the pond. Many times we watched him pull a wooden slat from the top of the dam when the water was high – spilling some of the pond to the brook that ran under the road, past the orchard, to a lower pond and still another dam. I’d seen him standing on a near-dry brook bed right below the dam one summer, when he said Massachusetts was desperate for rain. That cold 1950s day, we stood at the edge of the dam and stuck a toe out toward the top plank that held the water in place. The surface was slippery and we decided not to balance the short distance to the other side. In the summer, with bare feet, it was an easy feat.
We retraced our steps along the shore and sat for a while on cold board benches that faced the fire pit at the edge of the pond. We talked about ice skating – spins and skating backwards. I dreamed about velvet, fur-trimmed skating skirts. We poked the fire pit with long sticks and balanced atop the benches. We longed for marshmellows, hot chocolate, and popcorn. In the distance, we heard Mother ringing the bell for us to come in. We tossed the sticks aside and raced across the field to the house.
“I hosie telling about the ice!” my sister shouted.