I sit by a 30-acre void in the ground and I wait like a captain’s wife hoping to see her husband’s ship approaching from the horizon. Only I am waiting for the water of the Galestown Millpond to return and accompany me with its lessons.
I remember all the times in the past year that life was a little too busy for me to take time to sit by the millpond. Instead, work beckoned and I knew the millpond would be there the next day. On a morning in late June, it became clear that I had taken the millpond for granted as I watched the waters bowing out gracefully. After a fit of swift anger during the torrential rains the day before, the millpond acquiesced and took its leave. I was wrong to assume it would always be there.
Mostly I miss the familiarity of it. Daily, the millpond expressway would bustle with the activity of three Mallard bachelors, the profile of their curled tail feathers easily identified. Along with the bachelors, who were cruising for chicks, was the muskrat working furiously and oblivious of anything but his chores.
In the fall, the evening sun would reach lengthwise across the millpond and illuminate the harvest colors of the trees lining the eastern shore and mirrored in the still waters.
I will miss the winter water ballet. Migratory birds moving in unison as bodies extended and long lovely necks crooned. The diving ducks, offered a dramatic climax in the performance. They dove at one end of the stage, and after a lingering moment, would surface at the other end.
The spring tourist geese rushed through the expressway on their way to someplace else. They fed, bathed, and chatted loudly before lifting off, their wing joints pumping as they moved through the air.
In the heat of the early summer, the waters of the millpond gifted Galestown with cooling breezes. The town teens jumped from the swimming dock amidst splashing and laughing repeated in that same swimming hole for generations. This summer’s millpond was short-lived because the 500-year storm came four days after the solstice and claimed the heartbeat of Galestown. The bullfrogs who croaked “move over, move over” and “more room, more room” vacated along with the water.
Now I wait. For the first time in my midlife, I hope for time to pass more quickly. I long for the March day when the promised equipment arrives and removes the flood debris away from the breached dam. County officials have said the renovation will be completed next September, but there have been bureaucratic hints that it could be much later. I hope not, because I may perish from loneliness before then. I crave the company of the three bachelors, the busy muskrat, and the crowded bullfrogs. While the millpond has been away, I have deeply missed its tranquility, entertainment, and comfort — and its life lessons of what is really important.
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