After many years of family boating and spending day after day on the water, it was always in the back of our mind that someday we wanted some waterfront property. When we built our home back in 1996, it came to pass. Sort of.
All I really wanted was the sound of running water outside our bedroom bay window on a cool evening, relaxing me to slumber. Little did I realize how much that sound conjures up the urge to get up every hour and pee.
With the house, I no longer had the passion for another place to keep up. What about a small pond with maybe a fountain and a couple of fish? Puh-leeez???
We had our landscaper plot out the pond and estimate the cost. Ouch. $4K for the sound of running water in my sleep was a bit too steep. So we borrowed the blueprints and said we’d think about it.
Ron Burgundy doesn’t do anything small. Or easy. Or quickly. Bless his heart. The gradual hill that lingered in our back yard provided a vision that was not to be squelched. “How about we just build it into the hill a little? And have a little waterfall?”
“It’s just a hole in the ground. I can dig it.” Always the optimist, that boy. But dig it, he did.
The curious neighbors would come over and say “You’re digging that with a shovel? Most people use a backhoe! Or at least a bigger shovel!” He’d smile and sweat and say “Almost done” while mumbling “It really needs to be deeper.”
And deeper it got. When one waterfall didn’t seem like it captured the corner of the yard quite right, he decided on two. He went around the neighborhood collecting huge rocks from lots that were being dug for construction. And he made a trip to Stone City for limestone, loading and hauling 2 ton of rock in a 1 ton truck, pulling a trailer.
All. By. Himself.
Our pond as an infant.
And at its midsummer best.
We added lots of plants, including carpet roses that have looked worse each year, I had one little corner for an herb garden (which has moved to patio pots except for the chives and spearmint I can’t kill) and we bought two Koi and a baby fantail goldfish. Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Fish have to have names, and these fish had personalities. You knew who was whom.
It took about 3 weeks for the disciples to follow, and after that, well, you know The Story. Literally thousands of followers. Including frogs.
Mary, and Joseph made it about 6 years – pretty remarkable considering our -20 degree Iowa winters (the temp below the frost line is a constant 50 degrees – so glad RB kept digging)! Jesus lived on, and after that we went with just fantailed goldfish – they were 19 cents a piece as compared to $30 each for the Koi. Only a few bit the dust by getting sucked up in the pump. But Jesus’ legacy of thousands of fishes prevails. Haven’t seen any loaves, yet.
Last year RB did a major overhaul when the liner tore and we lost most of our water, but amazingly, very few fish perished. So
we he started over. He put in a bottom drain, new liner, new pumps, and restructured all the stone, including adding stone edging. It’s a teenager now (like the bags of mulch?), full of fish (take some, please), thousands of tadpoles, and more chocolate mint than you can shake a weed-whacker at. Whew, that smells so good, especially when grows in the rocks by the falls. You can smell it all over the yard. You can come take all you want of that, too. But like a growing child, this project needs some serious discipline.
My obligatory Lantanas, the unknown plant in Luke’s old football shoe for old times sake, and a new variegated sweet potato vine are about all we added. Other than a truckload of mulch. It will take a few weeks for the switchgrass to grow up, but my favorite part is the thornless hawthorne tree at the top. It has a unique clumped trunk and a perfect shape for shade.
This all puts my salad garden to shame – a simple two-foot strip behind the garage with mesclun, banana peppers, jalapenos, 2 heirloom tomatoes and one Better Boy.They usually don’t make it to a state of ripeness because of my insatiable passion for fried green tomatoes. But we will have salad all summer for a 59 cent pack of seed. It’s all we need.
Well, other than my herb pots! Can’t live a summer without fresh Italian parsley (half of which I’ve already used so it better grow fast), cilantro (my favorite herb-crack), rosemary, oregano, thyme, chives, and of course basil to help flavor my favorites – wheat berry salad and barley-mushroom salad on grilled asparagus.
Tonight, I’m blessed with the lingering presence of LuckyPuppy, who is probably spending his last summer laying under the crabapple tree. With sweet potato still on his nose from lunch.
He’s a little embarrassed to have his picture taken, being he’s in such a morbid state. But despite the tumor on his schnoz, lack of meat on his bones, spring in his step, and sparkle in his eye, he knows he’s loved. And he knows that once again tonight Mom chopped and peeled and stewed his vegetables for his wonderful homemade chicken soup. He even closes his eyes when you ask him to look at you, because then he thinks you can’t see him.
And no doubt he’s muttering “Why did I have to wait nearly 15 years and be so near death for her to feed me table food?”
And the two of us sit out there, listening to the waterfalls and think there is no more perfect refuge in the world today. There’s no more perfect place to pray. Maybe that’s why he has his eyes closed.
While his veggies were stewing, I slammed down half a Zola acai juice and I took a quick bike ride. On my way home, the sun was slipping behind the clouds, and I caught beautiful reminders of the One who gave me all of this exhilarating place I live. My legs were shot – I had not one smidgen of glycogen left by the time I hit the last hill for home, so it was a quick smoothie made with vanilla yogurt, blackberries, the other half of my Zola and a little ice. I guess that was supper. But these views, and returning to the sound of my running water made it all worth it.
Is this heaven? Pretty darned close. It’s Iowa,
Tea tonight: Jasmine