Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Frozen pond was winter wonderland

By DICK PINNEY December 10. 2017 3:16AM

CHRISTMAS EVE has always been and always will be a time for love and remembrance of those who we have loved that have moved on to "a better place."

But as a kid, some of the presents hoped to find under our Christmas tree were first on our bank of brain waves, rather than the real meaning of Christmas.

We lived in an old farmhouse that featured one of the best skating ponds in the neighborhood - our flooded field that usually drained under a dirt access road leading to our back woods would inadvertently get plugged (we may have played a small part in this ) and as a result would form a several-acre pond that would freeze only a few steps from our home, and very close to a couple of housing developments where many of my like-age friends lived.

Pond-side bonfires were not hosted but were tolerated by our neighbors that shared the pond's shoreline.

It was a skating pond to love. We had not only the big pond, but fingers of frozen water going up into the woods and alder swamps that provided all kinds of great experiences. Sometimes you'd end up with an alder tree between your legs or, even worse, get your skates tangled up in a snow covered snag, when often bloody results would stain the snow and ice, and keep us a little more alert to what we were skating into.

There was a mixture of grammar school age kids all the way up to local college students that seemed to blend into a scattering of adults with no problems.

We loved it when a communal warming fire was started a couple of feet off shore that we could pull a folding chair out close enough to warm our what seemed like endlessly freezing toes!

It was great to have that age mixture in the crowd, too, and one day it proved to be a life-saver for me. I had broken through the ice where the depth prevented me from touching bottom. As I broke ice trying to climb out, some of the other kids would try to help but ice cracking under their skates prevented their help.

One of those kids had the foresight to run a couple hundred yards to a home where an older teenager lived. Luckily, Jim McKenny was home and came to my rescue, pulling a toboggan behind him. Spread eagled out on the ice and pushing the toboggan out in front of him, he crawled close enough so I could reach out and grab the line on the toboggan. There was enough line that it reached back to solid ground where a team of older teenagers managed to haul me out of danger and back to terra firma!

We still remember that moment like it was yesterday, and have given thanks to both Jim and my maker many times!

The pond area has drainage now, and those neighborhood kids don't have the pleasure of skating on the seeming unlimited opportunities that were like frozen streets in a spider web going through alders, maple and pine trees. It was heaven!

Those were the days, my friends.

Follow-up from a previous column: Sold the camp back to original owner with stipulations that we have lifetime rights. His word is golden.

Dick Pinney 's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.

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