Sunday, March 7, 2010

Place entry #5 (week of 3/1-3/7)

Tuesday, March 2
4:45 p.m.

Temperatures feel milder today than they have been in weeks. There seems to be less wind. I am seated in the same wooden lawn chair, facing west. Branches from the large Maple tree criss-cross an otherwise blank white sky.

The pond is shaped like an old-fashioned keyhole. I didn't realize that until now. Melted water flows at the rounded south end where the pump is pushing water forcefully enough to create concentric circles. Grey and brown leaves are visible again in the daylight. The long "handle" is still ice-encased.

Small bushes dot the south shore line. As I scribble, tiny drops of sleet begin to fall, blurring the ink from my blue pen. A gust of wind changes the angles of the three water spigots and thus the sound of splashing water. Sometimes it pounds on the rubber pump. Other times it gently pads.

The snow surrounding the pond is stiff, but when it gives way, my feet sink what feels like several inches into the deep. Snow matches sky. Bleak and colorless. Today, only one set of footprints marches back and forth from the chair to the basement entrance of Mellon Hall.

Chimes ring off to my right, from the chapel, marking the five o'clock hour. Chatham shuttle buses rumble back and forth along the drive by the north side. Birds and small animals are hiding. Fifth Avenue begins to hum as rush hour traffic begins. Nicely muted, however, this far inland. Just then, a crow startles me and flies away just as quickly. No human voices. Students haul backpacks and book bags, walking purposefully to and from the path above the pond level.

Sleet comes faster and harder now. Writing gradually becomes almost impossible
as my naked right hand goes numb.

Saturday, March 6
4 p.m.

It is absolutely beautiful with the sun out in its full armor. There's a slight breeze but the air is significantly warmer since my last visit. Sunlight glints off the water's surface and blinds me. I simply close my eyes and smile. When I open them, I see bright orange fish. They hover at the boundary between melting ice and water. I look up at the azure sky and delight in the "trio" of color from snow to sky to fish.

Small boulders and stones surrounding the east side now poke through the melting snow. The snow's texture remains crusty and stiff. Boots are still necessary to trudge near the shore. I suppose it would be absurd to expect this area to be shoveled and salted. Why would anyone care to stroll around or sit by a half frozen pond in late winter?

Ten fish -- maybe more -- reappear and swim toward the circle.

Beads of moisture from the overhanging Maple branches also drip into the pond. Sky reigns blue. Maple stand majestic. Some green shrubbery grows along the higher bank near the pump. I didn't notice it before today.

I breathe deeply through my nose, but detect no smells or tastes.

The fragile ice glistens and quivers in the sunlight, as if resisting the sun's warmth. It, too, must give way to rising temperatures. The edges of the ice look like lace, with random gaps and holes as the water underneath expands and stretches.

Life, movement and energy are slowly seeping their way into the pond.

The northern end remains frozen. Clumps of snow look randomly tossed onto the icy surface.

A large pine stands directly opposite me about 20 yards away and another pine is behind me and to my right, closer to the pond's edge. Lindsay Hall sits somberly to the right of the large pine.

Very few people walk about on campus this afternoon. The only sound is splashing water.

1 comment:

Melanie Dylan Fox said...

I'm definitely able to *see* this place fully, right along with you. And I can't always help but wonder if the single set of footprints you see are from Frank. Maybe one of these times you'll both be at the pond at the same time, writing about it :-)