By Rick Houser –
To this day I can’t explain just why but it did. It didn’t matter what time of year it was or what kind of weather we were having it would still draw you to its very edge. There was just a good feeling when I was around it and I don’t guess I ever have figured out why.
I’m talking about the old ponds that we had on our farms and all around the neighborhood. On our farms alone we had seven different ponds. I think all of them were spring fed and were dug out so the excess water would drain from the ground, and also served as watering places for our livestock. One of the benefits of living on Fruit Ridge Road was the area was plentiful in artesian wells that delivered more than enough quality spring fresh cold water for each one of us to survive on. As best as I can recall, maybe only two of the ponds were of a decent size. The others always were delivering fresh water at the point where the spring fed into the pond.
There was always an attraction and the ponds seemed to draw me to them. Each pond was resting in an area where the ground seemed to slope down to the water’s edge and this seemed to cause it to be more interesting. I really don’t know why but it did. Our ponds weren’t stocked with big bass fish or trout or even catfish. No our ponds held yellow bellies, bluegills and sun fish along with snapping turtles and some big frogs. My friends and I took fishing poles, hook on an earth worm, and hope that just maybe a large fish was still in that pond that had been overlooked. Of course it hadn’t been missed but it was still entertaining to bait up a hook and sit on the bank and just watch the float on your pole and lean back in some shade and think to yourself or talk with your friends. It seemed that I pulled in more pond scum on my hook than anything else, but it never discouraged me.
The Marshall Brothers and I would walk down to the Maus’ pond as it was close to their home and we would at least get some nibbles there for sure. As a matter of fact Ed Maus would walk down to the pond and visit with us. I think he was attracted to the pond to see if he could get some good gossip from us boys. I know if we could tell Ed some news from the neighborhood we would. This guaranteed that he would be back the next time that we were there and it assured us that we would be allowed almost never-ending permission to fish there.
Later in life my Cousin Tom Houser, who owned the farm next to us, had his pond enlarged to the point of almost a lake in size and he also had it stocked with bass. His son and my cousin Walt and I would fish that pond a lot. For five years or more we farmed together and lived the bachelor life in the farm house.
Many evenings after a long days work we would take our poles and some worms and fish for those bass Tom had put in, but best I can remember we seemed to only hook those yellow bellies and sun fish. It really didn’t matter what we caught. It was just getting to toss in the line and getting to sit back and relax. Yes, these ponds, no matter their size, were always locations for having fun. After I was married I know my wife went along to fish a few times. I don’t think it ever caught her fancy very much I must admit, but for me she did give it a try.
Sometimes I would just walk from one pond to another and stop by the pond and enjoy just walking around it. In most cases we would have cattle in the field and if they were around the pond they could cause a lot of commotion and be somewhat entertaining. One pond we had was where our hogs would get their water and the hogs loved wading into the shallow of the pond and rolling in the water. As good as this was for the hogs I must admit they would stink the area up. I feel I could have been blindfolded and still could have found their pond with only my nose! Needless to say I never went much around their pond in warm weather. I just gave them their privacy.
In the winter months the ponds weren’t abandoned. When the pond would freeze over, it was my job to take an ax twice a day and cut a couple of holes in it so the cows and hogs could get water. One winter my cousin Walt reached into the trunk of his car and pulled out a couple of pairs of ice skates. A couple of other guys showed up with skates and we went to the ponds and tried our hands at ice skating. Let me tell you here and now, I didn’t figure out how to skate then and I guess I never will. Walt was pretty good at skating and that caused me to try harder but all I got from that was a few bruises on my back side and very tender ankles for the next couple of days.
In the evenings and even more so in the spring of the year, the ponds would become loud to the point of deafening with the sound of young frogs. When you hear them you knew spring had arrived and the warmth of the year was upon us. To hear the frogs singing their songs is truly music to my ears and I am sure it is to yours also. It is a sound that is almost attached to the water areas.
I liked listening to them as I find it a sound that is relaxing. Maybe more when it is near dark and you have brought your day to a close. It is just so easy to let go of the hard work day and lean back and begin to enjoy the evening. Very truly there is just no other place as calming as the old farm pond.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. If you would like to read more of his stories he has two books in publication “There are Places I remember “and Memories ARE From the Heart” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.