Rindge has the most bodies of water in all of New Hampshire so it comes as no surprise that besides Emerson Pond we have Grassy Pond probably about a mile down the road from us. I hadn’t been there in many years but what I remembered of it was that it had very even shallows and was more rural in nature than Emerson.
When we got there it was Father’s Day so there were some boats out on the water fishing but everyone was minding each other and it was very peaceful. Immediately upon getting on the water Ruud was asking me what was trying to sneak by us. “It’s just a water snake.” I muttered. These snakes had been my childhood nemesis. On land they are absolutely vicious, striking to bite you when you’re not even aware they are even there. They grow enormous for a New England snake and despite being non-venomous they do have sizable and painful fangs, which I can testify to. I was not in the mood for a reunion. “Don’t touch it! Those things are mean as Hell!” By this time Ruud was hovering over the poor beast getting a good look at it. “Why?” He asks. “I don’t know. They just are.” He was amused.
We paddled quietly after this soaking up the midday sun. It was gorgeous out and there was only two houses on this entire pond. It seemed wild and untamed and the wildlife seemed just as perplexedby us as we were of them. Red Winged Blackbirds chirped in the trees and flew here and there. Fish of all sizes, colors, and pattern swam under our boats. Grassy Pond was indeed grassy. Water lilies and various other aquatic plants covered almost every inch of shoreline and a great deal of the deeper water as well. Eventually we came across a pair of loons, the same loons we can sometimes hear singing their eerie lonely song at night. They popped up on the water’s surface checking us out before disappearing under the water again and popping up somewhere else. This went on for quite a while and as usual Ruud had all sorts of questions about them. Though I can always appreciate his enthusiasm for our wildlife I’m no ornithologist. I always took loons for what they were – beautiful, eerie, strange birds with ferocious territoriality towards other loons and a much stronger aptitude for monogamy than most water fowl.
Grassy Pond was intensely rich with life. It was strange peering into the water and watching all the fry and larger fish swoosh under us. I knew somewhere turtles were hiding – three different species at least including another childhood nemesis, the snapping turtle. One ancient monster turtle lived just down the road in a much smaller pond. It routinely ate adult ducks, dragging them under the water one at a time. Occasionally she’d show up on land trying to lay eggs in our lawn or blocking the road with her massive body. I hadn’t seen her in years but I know at the time she had to have already been in her 50’s. I wondered if she still haunted the area. I peered below the water with curious wonder, feeling almost guilty like I was watching something that is supposed to go unseen. Eventually I spotted a large fish and got creeped out before moving on. There are few animals that scare me but I think large boney fish always will.
The trip to Grassy Pond was exactly what we needed that day – quiet and solitude. We shared our water with several other boaters, some swimmers, and another kayak but it was still so quiet you could hear a pin drop, quite the opposite of Emerson. I felt like I had come home. I had long since missed this sort of serenity since moving from this area down the road into a loud obnoxious neighborhood. How many years I craved to have this blissful silence back in my life. I can only imagine what Ruud thinks of it, having grown up in Holland where almost all the houses are butted right up against each other and where the “forest” is little more than a few saplings with a bike path through them. It doesn’t seem a place like that could ever truly be quiet and the lack of wildlife I witnessed there was sad and alarming to me. No wonder he goes after anything that moves to see what it is. Someday we still hope to live somewhere quiet and wild like Grassy. We’d respect it for what it is and not bitch and complain the grocery store is too far away or the roads aren’t paved. That’s what happened to much of Rindge since my birth. The influx of city-living Massachusetts people came in and gave our town not only one grocery store but two as well as a Wal-Mart, a Sears, a Taco Bell, a dollar store, and some other things.