Down by Chapel Pond, beyond the pebble brook, that is where we were to be found. On a hot summer day or in the late afternoon of winter, when life was filled with happiness. Don’t you remember how it was? Life was slow and people cared about others. Children wandered about town without thoughts of danger. Danger from what? There was no danger in that world of long ago.
It was the grownups that did the worrying, if there was anything to worry about. Even today when the world is full of danger; why should a small child have to worry? We want to shelter them from the many evils. What do innocent children know about the evil which lies in wait? Sadly, today we must teach children early about danger in order to protect them.
For far too many years of our lives, we have heard stories about violence. But had it always been that way? We have come to accept that the world has always been so filled with violence. Has it caused us to forget the time when we ourselves were young and innocent? Have we forgotten the peaceful and happy times of childhood, the days spent at Chapel Pond?
We each have always had a place like Chapel Pond in our hearts. My own story was not of Chapel Pond, an idealistic place that exists only on paper drawn from the imagination of someone who daydreams too much. My Chapel Pond was a place called the Duck Pond in the meadows not far from Snake Hill. It was just a short walk across the meadow and down an old rail line.
In winter it was an especially pleasant walk. The air was crisp and the blanket of fresh snow made it quiet and peaceful. When you arrived at the pond, it was time to put on ice skates. That is a very small portion of my Chapel Pond. But this is not just a story about my or your Chapel Pond. This is a story about life and the way it was.
If we are simply able to remember those times in our youth, we have a place inside our mind to turn to and find safe haven. A gentle peace of heart and soul during times of stress. And since the world is very stressful, all of us could use a good break from reality sometimes. Think of it as a brief mental vacation.
We can return to those days of cotton candy, fairs and good friends always there to lend a hand. Those were days of never-ending friendships and sunshine. Days of summer ocean breezes and, most especially, days spent as families being together. It is possible to find your way back home. It only takes a memory, a story that brings us back to youth.
I can still smell the charcoal burning on the barbecue pit or the wood in the winter fire barrel for warmth. Recall the sounds of laughter from a happy child, for that child is inside your heart since that child is you. No matter what pain life has brought you, we all have a Chapel Pond in our hearts that we can call up from our past.
And if you find that you don’t have memories of such a place, feel free to claim Chapel Pond as your very own story.
– Michael Seyfried
Michael Seyfried is a frequent contributor. “Chapel Pond” is from the collection Memories of Yesteryear.