Secret Pond

It’s good to have a secret pond. Ironically, once I talk about the pond, it’s not a secret anymore. Nonetheless, the place is there; you’ll have to trust me on that.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The pond’s an oblong waterhole for deer. Cattails grow lushly on one side of it. The pond looks deep and young. It is not a home for trout, nor even bass; it has sunfish and a lot of frogs, and that’s okay.

Very few people know about the pond, or care about it, and that endears it to me even more. It’s close enough to my home that, on a clear day, I imagine my house and barn can be viewed on its surface.

When I fish the pond I use a fly reel with a silent crank. No click of the handle. I hardly even know I’m fishing. Frogs leap from the tall grass; bluegills drop back to the water with a plop. I’m left on the bank, alone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pond blends a sense of the pastoral with the wild. Field and forest are its neighbors. Deer tracks are imprinted in the mud. I’m careful not to imprint my own.

Having a secret pond is like having an erotic dream you’ll never have to talk about. You might want to mention an exchange of looks and touches. You might want to tell someone close about the dream, but finding an adequate language is hardly worth the effort.

To acknowledge the presence of the pond is to suggest that your psyche (way down in the wilderness of your head) is trying to tell you something. There’s no point calling on Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung to assist you with the meaning here, it’s just a feeling you might get while standing at the pond.DSCN0377

To look at the pond on a beautiful summer evening is like waking from your dream and recollecting the famous words of Alfred E. Neumann (Mad magazine), “What, me worry?”

A raven gives a raucous croak; a chipmunk scampers through an old stone fence. Somewhere a car passes through the valley. I can hear my breathing while I’m perched on a boulder at the pond.

The pond is both close by and remote, substantial and like fog. A streamwalker, like myself, who typically fishes brooks and rivers with a fly, doesn’t quite know what to make of it. He thinks of the pond as a stream that is basically round.



The pond is a source of poetry, too. The streamwalker doesn’t write of it but makes a real connection with the water. He doesn’t talk about it much, but if you press him he might tell you something. Yeah, it’s good to have a secret pond.DSCN0423

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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12 Responses to Secret Pond

  1. Ken G says:

    I’ve got one of those. There’s actually four of them all together. The hike in is brutal, which is why I assume if anyone else is going there, I have yet to see a foot print.

    And, how in the world do you catch a gill so small?

    • I remember you talked about those ponds, Ken. Lucky for me, this pond is relatively easy to access, though its location is off the beaten track. Doubt if anyone ever goes there. As for the ‘gill, I don’t know how I did it, but I’m hoping it’s a fly-rod record for Puny.


  2. Leigh says:

    And when you don’t want to bother with waders and boots, just happy to stand on the bank and silently cast while the evening slips into night, it’s good to have a secret pond.

  3. I’ve caught bluegills all my life and, though I’ve seen some that were close, you’ve got the smallest ever as far as I know! Nice story. Glad to know there are still hidden treasures out there.

  4. Long says:

    Beautiful, secret spots are the best! you described everything perfectly.

    • Thanks Long, and welcome back!


      • Bob Stanton says:

        I, too, have a, well, I guess it’s not a secret pond ‘cuz other people fish it, but the mile + hike in discourages most. It grows some decent largemouth, but I don’t fish it for them…I’m after the ‘gills!

      • Sounds like the hike in to the pond makes it special, and the bluegills are like icing for the cake, a sweet deal, Bob.


  5. marymaryone says:

    What beautiful writing. Thank you.

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