It was not so very large, just and acre or two, just a little pond down the road, in the midst of Mister Frazier’s apple orchard. But it was a place, oh yes indeed, a place that held many fond memories. Memories for not only me and mine, but for most of the whole town, just a small pond there in the orchard, just a pond where in the winter we did skate.

Me and Jake, Jake was my brother, we did not have any ice skates, so we would run and slide on our shoes. Some folks laughed at us, but heck there were more of us without skates than those with. That is how I met her, met the girl of my dreams, the girl I fell passionately in love with. Maria Elena was the normal skinny twelve year old, but she could skate and she had two pairs of ice skates. Maria had moved to our town from up in the Northeast some place, for she did talk so funny like. We had a hard time understanding her, and Mrs. Katzmeyer, our teacher had a problem understanding her too.

It was the winter of 48, and it had gotten cold just after Thanksgiving, cold as blue blazes and of course when it did, Mister Frazier opened the gate on the road, signaling that the pond was open. He moved everything away from the pond then set out six or eight long benches he kept in his barn. Heck he even had a big fire ring, a ring of rocks oh, a foot or two in diameter, which defined where we could have a fire. He would on Friday haul a load of wood, old tree limbs and stack it about fifty feet from the fire ring. Other folks would bring wood and dump it there so we could have a nice fire.

Me and Jake ate supper early and raced to the pond. We were running and sliding when Dolph Jackson showed up. Dolph was in his twenties but was a might heavy, just a little on the obese side. Dolph and four or five buddies had skates and were going to play ice hockey, 'cepting Dolph put on his skates, went out on the ice, and fell. He fell so hard the ice broke and Dolph fell in.

Billy Mason quickly ran to the big steel rim that Mister Frazier had put there in case of problems. Billy rang the thing and soon Mister and Mrs. Frazier came on the run. “Dolph done fell in, Dolph done busted the ice,” Billy yelled.

Mrs. Frazier got the ladder and pushed it out on the ice. “Grab hold of the ladder Dolph, grab the ladder,” she hollered, as Mister Frazier ran back to the barn, fired up the old John Deere and came chugging back. He threw a rope and Mrs. Frazier shoved it to Dolph.

“Put the loop over your body and under your arms and hold on to the ladder,” she hollered. Soon the old John Deere was straining as Mister Frazier slowly pulled Dolph out. Needless to say there was no more skating that night.

It stayed cold, and on Saturday morning we went back to the pond, Jake and me did. We had to do some chores afore we could go, so when we got there, this woman was a skating, spinning, jumping and really putting on the dog. It was Maria Elena. Me and Jake, we just stood and watched as she seemed oblivious to the world, as she skated fast around the pond, jumping, spinning and all of that fancy stuff. There must have been fifty or more of us there a skating, but about noon an old delivery truck drove in, past the parking area and over near the fire pit. Two men in white outfits got out and proceeded to set up tables and to put a big pot on the fire.

“Hot soup and cocoa,” they announced. Dang they fed everybody. Maria Elena must have had rich parents, but me and Jake we had soup and hot chocolate. Man they even put lots of marshmallows in each mug. As we stood in line I was watching a man and lady skating, oh so smooth, they just danced and would glide so gracefully across the pond. I bumped into someone, quickly turned and said “Excuse me,” and looked back. It was Maria Elena and she put her hand on my shoulder and spoke to me. I was floating in heaven.

But yeah, for twenty five years I skated on that pond. Sometimes I think it was more fun without skates but me and Jake we got skates and soon we too were playing hockey and Maria Elena was teaching me to fancy skate.

So here I sit, sad and forlorn, over fifty years later. I don’t skate now, but I do own the orchard and the pond and I make sure everyone gets to skate, for it was here I met Maria Elena, my wife of many years. She passed over, but each winter day when I come out to watch the kids skate, I see her out there.





© Tom (tomWYO@aol.com)




Watch these pages for more poems by Tom.
In the meantime, click the links below for other poems and stories by the authors at Lara's Den.


Redneck Lament

I Talk To The Stars

Scrapbooking: Summer Vacation

Silver Minutes

A Walk Through Falling Snow

Last Year's Ducks

Threads Of Time

On Growing Old


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