Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

MR. WILLIE THRIFT CAME TO VISIT YESTERDAY.  He builds farm ponds. Mr. Thrift has a piece of machinery with a huge pan on it that can scoop out the earth as easily as I scoop mashed potatoes onto a plate.

Buck put on his brier britches and boots to follow Mr. Thrift into the rough area behind the big oak where my old friend, Contract, (Westmark’s No-Cut Contract), was buried in April of ’03.


Westmark’s “No-Cut” Contract in the snow on our deck near Asheville, North Carolina, 1999


Unprepared, in shorts, tank top and slip-on sneakers, I trailed along with Buck and Mr. Thrift. They talked about topo lines, weeping hills, sources of clay to line the pond, and tear drop shapes.

Oceans are grand, and sweeping lakes magnificent, but ponds are more my style: intimate, nurturing places, drawing creatures tame and wild, me included, to slip in and receive sustenance there.

I guess I was so excited about the prospect of build a pond that I didn’t notice that ants were ringing my ankle and beginning their march northward until, as if on a prearranged signal, they all stung. Wow! The feeling in my foot was more exciting than brushing my teeth with wasabi paste. I started dancing and came out of that shoe fast. Buck grabbed my shoe and began beating it on the side of a pine tree.

Mr. Thrift kindly made himself selectively blind. He and Buck continued pointing, poking the ground, and talking about wells. After a few minutes, I slunk back to the house to look for the calamine lotion.

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