English vs. American “ponds”

I had a great, great love of garden ponds growing up in England.

My friend Tracy’s delightfully English garden pond.

I had several relatives with them. They always had fish in them, and when we visited, I would spend hours checking out the garden pond. Usually I would be wearing some long gown and definitely dwelling in princess-imaginary-land.

Here I am sitting in my Nana and Poppy Duncan’s garden. Pretending to be a Princess. As one does, at age 4.

Sometimes the garden ponds had nearby gnomes. Pretend ones of course, although a 4 year old mind turned them into reality pretty quickly. It’s a bit impossible to be brought up in the land of Tolkien and Lewis and not be obsessed with trolls, gnomes, elves, pixies, and consequently want to be some sort of a Princess.

I won’t give you my imagined Scott’s response to that previous sentence.

Gnome decorations have a long and interesting English history. Check out this article:

The Story Behind Garden Gnomes Is More Compelling Than You Might Think

My friend Tracy is much more adult in her Tolkeinishness and has a Narnia lamppost (because CS Lewis and Tolkien were friends, of course) as well as this rather delightful Pixie that hangs out on her waterspout.

Here’s the view from her kitchen window. Spot the lamp post.

I mean, isn’t this just lovely? Couldn’t you just cook all day from this standpoint?

When I visited Scott at his family’s farm, the Christmas before we got married, I heard the word “pond” in several dinner conversations. Because farming was always a dinner conversation.

Things like: “we’ll be lucky if the pond is thawed by April!”

And “What will you do for water for the cattle if the pond is frozen?”

And I’m sat eating a savoury scone, that they are calling a “biscuit” and wondering what on earth they are worrying about if their gnome pond is frozen? It’s only a tiny thing, for goldfish, after all? Don’t these people have hoses for their, what, 2 cows, Daisy and Buttercup? A bucket even?

I knew NOTHING about farm life.

No. Not TWO cows. And definitely not a gnome pond.

Apparently a pond was a lake. My British peeps will get this. This is our own “pond”.

The kids got me some gnomes a few years ago but the mythical urchins looked so overwhelmed by the “pond” that I set them on the front porch instead so they could do nice civilized things like talk to the mail-man, rather than battle it out with sub-zero temps and scary Mid-Western things like raccoons and bobcats at the Pond-Lake.

They got brittle in the cold air and cracked into pieces and I had to burn them. (Oh, wait for THAT story…) Apparently these are purely British creatures, requiring a temperate climate with occasional slightly tropical temps in Cornwall. They want to be sipping gin and tonics on the porch, not shoveling down hot chocolate like Santa’s silly elves…

So I gave up on the gnomes. Sorry, Tolkien and C.S Lewis (although I think Tolkien really only dealt with dwarves)

When we built our home, a memory I’m so grateful to be in possession of, Scott thought way ahead (unlike me, who was just constantly having babies and not capable of stringing more than two words at a time together) and he said, “we need a pond, for future livestock, and we need to stock it with fish…”

He’s so smart.

It was so fascinating watching our lovely Giant Non-Gnome Pond develop. It was such a huge thing. They back-hoed a few trees (which we have used for firewood ever since) and dug holes, although not big holes, in appropriate places and then…it just filled up!

Ed Wright Excavating of Alexander, Illinois took care of our Gnome-Pond-Lake needs and I went out to watch him when he was making the pond. There was a spring. I was so excited.

I always thought a spring would be Old Faithful-like, gushing water in exciting cascades. But no, it just looked like a constantly soaked sponge-in-mud. It just quietly and consistently seeped. And it seeped so well, that combined with a little rain, that giant Gnome-Pond-Lake was full in a couple of months.

I find our pond to be the most peaceful part of our land. I love to sit and watch the ducks and geese and feed the greedy fish. Because it’s a pond, it’s obviously in a hollow, and it’s quieter down there, even on a stormy day.

I told Will I was going to take a lawn chair and a cup of coffee down there in the spring. He asked me later, “how was your pond-sit?”.


It might just need a brave gnome.

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