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Dad's Pond

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Published on: Feb. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

We'd built the pond for Bob's dad, built it 10 years before, where an always-soggy bit of ground betrayed its suitability as a lake site. My husband and I built it because each year this marshy covert shrank, as if the woods were impatient to reclaim the tiny wetland.

When the dam was finished, the rains had come. The pond filled in a single season, and we took that as an omen. Soon, deer and turkeys drank from the muddy water. Then the first frogs and dragonflies appeared.

This wasn't our first pond. We'd built one years before and recalled how gullible bass can be when first they encounter a popper or fly. Just once, we wanted Dad to experience action like that.

"Just wait," we told him. "You won't believe how many bass you'll catch."

We released bluegill first; then, six months later, bass and catfish. We released our bass at high noon on a hot, muggy day and watched as they swam strongly away. They disappeared, and we felt sure that soon our bass would weigh 2 pounds and the bream would be slab-thick.

Although it was on our property, this was Dad's pond, he would fish it first. He could wet his line in virgin waters and perhaps catch, in turn, each of these bass before it grew wise in the ways of anglers and lures.

As the months and then the years slid by, the water in the pond remained strangely turbid.

"How can bass grow in a pond that muddy?" Bob wondered. And I worried with him as we tossed hay on the water, hoping to clear it.

"Maybe the catfish are rooting up the bottom," Bob muttered, perplexed. "Or maybe it's insects, burrowing out of the mud."

We tried everything to settle the particles of clay that floated in the water like dust motes in hyperspace. We planted a nurse crop of wheat and followed it with orchard grass and fescue. We struggled to grow something on the barren patches of ground, anything to cushion the droplets of rain so they wouldn't displace the earth and carry it down to the pond. But nothing worked.

When we'd built the pond, Dad was already 72 years old. He'd spent his entire life providing for his wife and children and still went to work every day and worked all day. His one other passion was fishing.

We'd give him fishing tackle as presents for Father's Day, birthdays and

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