project pond scum.

5 Jul
the pond – with Aunt Peggy & Uncle Brian’s in the background
Growing up, my summers were spent at the pond.  You know – the pond.  The same pond in which my dad and his siblings grew up swimming.  The pond that sits on my neighbor’s property [that neighbor being  my aunt and uncle].  The pond that was probably a 12 minute walk through corn field paths, along the creek, and past the hornet’s nest from our farm.  Or a five minute tractor ride.  Maybe three in the bed of the truck.
The pond was where my brothers, cousins, and I lived in the summers.  My aunt works at the high school so she, like us, had her summers off and spent those days as lifeguard, swimming instructor, and freezie pop provider.  The place where we cooled off and cleaned up after a day in the tobacco fields, and the place where we made each other filthy with muck and pond scum fights.  The pond was one of my happiest places as a child.
It was where I learned to swim and tread water for hours.  My personal feat as a little girl was performing summersaults and handstands just off the pier.  [I believe it was thirteen summersaults in a row – and in one breath – that was my final and best record.]  It was where I learned to hold my own with four boys named Matt, Ben, Mike, and Kyle.  
It’s been years since I’ve been swimming in the pond.  Being away for summers and simply with the brothers and cousins growing in age, the pond isn’t our natural gathering place anymore.  In the years away, the pond has changed.  The middle pier/diving board is now gone, along with the pier on the western edge that no one used but for fishing.  The remaining pier is a bit saggy in places and the fish population has grown.  As have the weeds.
When we swam in the pond nearly every day for many summers in a row, the weeds were never much of a problem.  We would clear them out in the beginning of the summer and feel them no more for the rest of the season.  It’s likely been many years since the weeds were cleared from this swimming hole.  That, my friends, was the project for today.
Cousin Connor encouraged us to take back our swimming pond.  [I think he’s just as bored as I am since he returned from his two weeks in Kenya and as he waits to begin his first year of college in the fall.]  Emma and I responded with a strong, “Huzzah!” and the weeds had met their match.  It’s just not so much fun to swim out to the middle of the pond and have the seaweeds graze your body as you paddle past.  It can be a little disturbing, and maybe a little eerie.  The weeds had to go.

The ones closest to shore were raked.
The best method for weed removal?  Spaghetti-style.  As a fork winding spaghetti off a plate, so becomes your leg winding and pulling the weeds from the bottom of the pond.  Connor and I pulled all the weeds we could reach with our legs, twisting and twirling until the weeds came up on our foot.  We’d pull them off our feet and Emma would take the canoe paddle and bring them up to shore or onto the pier.  We had a system and it worked fairly well for us.  [Not so well for the weeds.]
Does this gross you out?  The weed-pulling spaghetti-style?  [I’m sure a few of you might just be grossed out at the thought of swimming in a pond.  You have my mom’s company.]  In a weed fight fought later in the afternoon, it was discovered that it certainly grosses my sister out.  She made gagging noises as Connor threw weeds on top of her head.  Sure, the weeds make you a little itchy, and pulling them from the bottom makes the water all sorts of murky and dirty.  Connor attempted to nail me with a paddle of weeds from the boat as I treaded water in the middle.  He missed, but I hit him square in the back upon retaliation.  Best line of the day?  As he jumped in the water to clean off and yelled, “I have weeds in my pants!”
A majority of our catch.
Connor and I with our spaghetti.
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