Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Man Made Bliss

At the center of my fairly large subdivision, there is a man made pond. At one end is the community center, a gym, a restaurant and some shops, one of which serves hand dipped ice cream. The pond area serves a central location for activity in the neighborhood. There's a walking path around it, some picnic tables and benches. Looking across the water to the west you can see the breathtaking Bridger Mountain range. I never get tired of that view.

The pond is surrounded by grassy banks with the exception of two  beaches. I use the word beaches loosely because it's actually just very fine gravel, which is what passes for sand in Montana (Apparently actual sand blows away in the wind).

Right now, in the hottest days of summer the pond shines for what is truly is: the only place to cool off for many hot, dry miles. The beach areas are dotted with colorful umbrellas and teeming with children til sundown. Their blissful shouts and splashes can be heard from blocks away. Dogs launch themselves into the water after tennis balls. Anything that's inflatable and can be perched upon can be seen bobbing  gently in the water, its occupants hanging off the sides paddling. The last time I was out on the pond in our raft, I saw an inflatable mattress and couch drift by carrying folks who were enjoying beers from a cooler that also floated and was connected to their vessel by a thick rope.

The pond is full of gigantic orange fish who school together near the surface at twilight. Their dorsal fins ripple the water's surface, occasionally one will jump up, presumably gobbling up a bug. Rumor has it the pond wasn't ever stocked with these fish but they are koi and goldfish who were dumped in by unwilling owners and just happened to thrive.

What I like about the pond is that it brings people together. I hate to admit that I don't know my neighbors well. We wave to each other and exchange occasional small talk but that's it. All I have to do to get a conversation started with someone around the pond is pass them with my dog or on my roller skates. I think the active, fun atmosphere of the pond (and the fact that beer is available nearby) encourages people to loosen up. I don't ever get the feeling that anyone is in a big hurry when they're hanging out by the water. It makes me think about what life must have been like generations ago when the local swimming hole probably was what brought a community together.

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