When you were young, there was always that special place that you went to be alone, to contemplate what little you knew about life; a place of seclusion where you felt secure. Those places varied for each of us, depending on our location, natural surroundings, specific environment, and of course, our own particular and peculiar needs. A unique place that would accommodate the appropriate and distinct requirements of one, but not necessarily those of another. The place had to be in harmony with who and what you were, or at least wanted to be.
For me, that place was a small secluded pond about a quarter mile into the woods across from my home. The woods were dense and didn’t start to become sparse until you came to that small body of water that appeared as though it had been magically situated for the sole purpose of providing me with a place of solitude.
At one end of the pond a small knoll rose gently up, and away from the pond to a height of maybe ten feet above the surrounding terrain. The entire knoll was only about twenty feet wide by thirty feet in depth, but it had small rock outcrops on each side and the rear. From the pond it appeared as a natural and mysterious throne, having been created to rule the life at its feet. But from the knoll, it became a sanctuary, with protection from all but the pond side. Once the discovery was made, it became my place, and remained so for years.
In one aspect, it was a place to recline and allow the mind to ponder those things that yet made sense. In another, it was a place unrestricted by the shackles of adult intervention. This was the time in life when the restrictions of a parent were necessary for your well being, but fought as a means to become who you were; who you wanted to be.
The pond was a place to explore and discover nature, and it was omnipresent. There was a diverse selection of both flora and fauna and, in seclusion, they appeared more vivid and alive than a mere quarter mile away. The sights and sounds took on a new meaning. Time would seem to evaporate as the uninterrupted observation of a squirrel cracking open a nut, its cheeks being filled with the bounty at hand, made you wonder if any was being enjoyed now, or would only be saved for later. Waiting for a frog, floating below the water’s surface with eyes appearing to be fixed directly on you, to move, speculating if it was real and alive.
Through the seasons you could watch new plants welcomed into the world, and then progress through the various stages of growth and existence, learning much about both them, and yourself. As they developed, so did you, in both thoughts and perceptions. You came to realize that even those things that seemed trivial, or provided a spectacular beauty, remained on earth but a short time. The reasoning for their being was not always comprehended, but you came to realize, that there was a purpose.
And so you continued to enjoy the serenity of your special place. You continued to explore both the outer world and the inner being that was not what you were, but what you would be. Although the youthful visions of your future were sure to change, the memories of that special place remains. A place that, for the first time, you were allowed to examine and envision things that were unencumbered by the restraints, mandates, or persuasions of those who loved you, but didn’t understand your needs to develop your individuality.
My place was the pond and much of what I am was initiated and developed there. Even though it has been many years, the place remains special in my recollections and remembrance of those days when my life was still ahead of me and my vision for the future had yet to be realized.