Sparks (or not)
Emitted from the fire, their tiny illumination endures for the briefest of moments…then, they are gone

Holbrook’s Pond

Funny how some seemingly insignificant moment from the past will stick with a person their whole life.

“Your the bestest mom in the whole wide world!” was my excited response to Mom’s affirmative nod and smile. My brothers and I had just asked her if we could walk to Holbrook’s Pond for an afternoon swim.

The funny part is that I remember all the details of that moment – Mom in the kitchen, us boys rushing out the door wearing only our cut-offs and towels, me turning back to give Mom a hug and my gleeful exclamation – rather than remembering any details of our first swim without parental supervision.

It was a big deal. It was the beginning of a yearly summer ritual for my brothers and me all through our growing-up years. It was a liberating moment for us boys and I suppose, for our parents too.

Holbrook’s Pond was for all intents and purposes the neighborhood swimmin’ hole. Mel Holbrook was a logger and owned his very own bulldozer. In a time before restrictive land-use regulations, he excavated a huge crater across Ewe Creek and dammed up the lower end. The resulting reservoir formed the perfect centerpiece for a backyard playground. Mel’s wife Mary had a flair for the aesthetic and under the shade of oak and madrone trees, she cultivated lush grass and flowers.

In time, cattail, bullrush and willow lined the water’s edge. Mel stocked the pond with bluegill and catfish. Frogs just naturally seemed to find their way to the summer oasis. Picnic tables and an outhouse completed the park-like setting.

My folks and others who lived on Ewe Creek Road were good friends with the Holbrooks. Our families gathered there often for a picnic and a swim. When the sun began to fade in the evening, we would typically paddle our tubes upstream on an imaginary jungle cruise as the grown-ups sipped their drinks and fidgeted with their poker chips.

My brothers and I learned to swim at Holbrook’s Pond. Whether by design or coincidence, the pond was laid out perfectly. The far side offered a shallow and gradual entry, good for beginners and splashers. It even featured a series of tree stumps, progressing upward in height, for novice divers.

The near side was steep and deep – with a real diving platform. It was reserved for the older and bolder. Looking back, I find it a bit nostalgic to recall how each one of us progressed through the summers from wading, to the stumps, to the platform. All of us eventually became strong swimmers and graceful divers – and at quite a young age at that!

So Mom was not naive and careless when she gave us that nod and smile of approval. It was an “eagles nest” moment. It was as if she knew the question was coming and she – and we – were ready.  Still, I marvel that Mom was able to trust God and three little boys to walk barefoot the mile-and-a-half to Holbrook’s Pond for an afternoon of swimming.

For that moment, which contributed to one of the great chapters of my youth, I once again declare “You’re the bestest mom in the whole wide world!”

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2 Responses to “Holbrook’s Pond”

  1. I am glad to be sharing this page from your past…love it brother!


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