7:50 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10
I stood on the walkway behind Lindsay House and stared at the vast depth of snow surrounding the garden and pond, searching for any shoveled path that would allow me closer access. All I saw were several blurred human tracks criss-crossing the area. Partial immersion would be required. Breaking new ground, I waded in snow up to my knees, approaching the area from the western end rather than the east. There was no place to sit, unless I circled the pond to the wooden chair on the opposite. It seemed easier just to stand along the western bank, gaze up at the charcoal sky and gaze down at my snow-covered boots and soaked pants. Small snowflakes pelted my cheeks. Female laughter and shouts drifted from the hill next to the chapel where a group was sledding and making snow figures.
I was surprised to discover that the pond wasn't completely frozen. Noticing a radius of about two feet of flowing water around the pump at the south end, it dawned on me that hot water was being pumped into the frozen ground. This raised some engineering questions that can be addressed later.
I gazed across the pond searching for the boulder on which the plaque commemorating a dedication was attached. It was buried, but Anne Putnam Mallinson's memory is not. I scribbled her name in my notebook two and a half weeks ago when I first noticed it.
Cancer may have silenced Mallinson's music, but this pond reminds me that her spirit still sings and her Chatham legacy still flows. She was a music major and Chatham choir member. She was a resident of Warren, PA, and active in her high school choir. She graduated from Chatham in 1961 and served as president and other leadership positions in many alumni fund raising organizations. The university dedicated the pond to her on May 3, 2008 in honor of her lifelong service. (http://www.chatham.edu/memorial/mallison.cfm). Did she enjoy a fulfilling musical career after she graduated or is she remembered primarily for her philanthropic activities? Did she have a husband, children and grandchildren? What did she enjoy most as a student? What kind of cancer was it? How long did she suffer? I can still feel the waves in the wake of her journey to the afterlife. Who made the decision to dedicate the pond in her memory? Was the pond created just for her, or did it exist before her passing, created for another purpose? More questions float through my mind, to be explored further.
Then I turned around and contemplated another choice. Follow my own footprints back to the main path, or break another new path? Thinking it would be easier, I tried to follow my footprints. I felt like a football player stepping through a series of tires. Maintaining balance was the greatest challenge.