Zionsville Times Sentinel

I’m not sure why I thought it would be different this time. After all, I had thoroughly planned the Pond Project and couldn’t, for the life of me, envision it taking any longer than five days. Six, tops.

And since my wife was on a week-long vacation with her girlfriends — something they do every year — what better time than now to put in my long-desired pond and waterfall.

But then, I hadn’t counted on two of those five days being a virtual monsoon. My wife left Saturday morning and I spent the rest of the day sketching on paper what the pond would look like. On Sunday I reviewed for the umpteenth time all of the books and articles I had accumulated on building and maintaining ponds and water gardens. I knew my stuff. I had it down cold. I was ready to start digging first thing Monday morning.

Then it started to rain. Let me rephrase that. About 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon the heavens opened up and dumped the equivalent of Lake Ontario in my back yard. Throughout the night it added Lake Michigan and a good part of Lake Superior. Lake Huron showed up right after lunch on Monday.

My mood darkened with the skies as I gazed out across the newest Great Lake — Lake Back Yard. Hey, you wanted a pond, I told myself. Cheer up, you’ve got a pond. Ha. Ha. I spent the day brooding and doing “inside stuff.”

Tuesday dawned bright and sunny. I took a look at the back yard. The tide was going out and my spirits lifted. By mid -afternoon I could see land and unrolled my water garden plans again.

After supper I took a walk around the yard. Actually, I didn’t get far. While the ground was dry on the surface, it was saturated with who knows how many gazillion gallons of water. With each step, I sank to the tops of my shoes. It was still a swamp.

That’s when I noticed the huge tree limb that the storm had ripped off the elm tree. Before I could start on the pond I would have to cut it up and remove it.

Fast forward to Wednesday. At last I could walk in the yard without fear of drowning. Time to cut up the limb so I could finally start digging. When I went to the front of the house to get my saw from the garage, I noticed that a branch from the tulip tree had weakened and was lying across the power line coming from the street. We had had one brief power outage during the storm. The last thing I needed was a long-term outage caused by a limb breaking the line.

Gingerly, I raised the limb from the power line with a long board which I propped up on the top of my car. Then I started sawing, ever so gently, with my long-handled pruning saw. As I sawed, I crossed my fingers and hoped the severed branch would fall clear of the power line and not come crashing down on top of it. With a slight crack, it fell free and dropped to the ground. Hooray!

That’s when I noticed that the storm had also flattened my smoke tree by the street, and the broken limbs were now blocking the driveway. More pruning. The damage was worse than I thought, so there was actually a lot more pruning.

After all the cutting was done, I spent the rest of the late afternoon hauling branches to the back yard and cutting them into smaller pieces for the burn barrel. As the sun sank in the west, I noticed that the limb from the elm tree was still waiting.

Suddenly, it’s Thursday. I decide to cut up the elm branch in the afternoon. Of course, all the rain made the grass grow at a supersonic pace, slightly more than an inch per hour. Before I can start digging, I’ll have to mow the lawn. I figured I could do that right after lunch, then cut up the elm branch and easily have a couple hours of daylight left to start excavating the pond.

When I went to the kitchen to fix lunch, I discovered that our aging refrigerator had finally given up the ghost. The shelves were barely cool and food was spoiling. I dropped everything to run to the store for ice.

Pond? What pond?

Ward Degler is a Zionsville writer and artist. E-mail him at

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