Holiday Pond  by Edith M. Patch

An Invitation

S OMEWHERE, in a pleasant country place, there is a little lake. It is cheerfully called "Holiday Pond." The name itself sounds like an invitation to come and have a happy vacation.

Blueberry bushes grow on a hill near by; and the fruit, ripened in the sunshine, is very sweet. When you bend over to pick the berries, the sun makes the back of your neck feel warm at first, then hot. In spite of the juice in the berries you become thirsty.

So you go down to the water to bathe your face and drink and wade. After that you rest on the shore where some bushes make a cool shadow.

Then you forget that you have been hot and tired, for you begin to see the stories of Holiday Pond. Real stories—live stories—and so many of them going on at the same time that you may choose the ones that please you most!

There are frogs, those of each kind with manners of their own. The spotted pickerel frogs, sunning themselves in plain sight among the stones a rod or so up the bank, hop quietly to the water when you come near them. An old water-soaked trunk of a fallen tree makes a bridge across a corner of the pond. If you walk out on it the clamoring frogs that have been hiding there, plunge and splash into the water. They yell wildly as they leap and the first time you hear them you jump nearly as far as they do. They surprise you so! There is a calm bullfrog sitting on a broad lily leaf. His body is so nearly the color of the leaf that you might not notice him if it were not for his bright eyes. Those eyes watch you but the frog does not seem nervous. He does not bother to jump until you are almost near enough to touch him.

Some tiny painted turtles, all just the same size, are paddling about and stretching their necks while they hunt for their dinner.

Four young sandpipers walk along the edge of the water. Each bird calls to the others often enough to keep the members of the family from straying too far apart.

A damsel-fly, a dainty blue cousin of the dragon-fly, wraps her filmy wings about her body and creeps down the stem of a plant to the bottom of the pond. You can see her moving about in the clear water for many minutes, and you watch to see whether she will come up again and fly away.

The queer tracks at the margin of the pond are those of the raccoon who came down to wash his food before he ate it.

At the outlet, near the mouth of Holiday Stream are a lot of little fishes. They are ready to leave the pond and follow the stream to the sea. You would like to walk along the bank and go with them. But just then something flies down to the yellow pond lily and you creep as near as you can to see what it is.

So you stay at Holiday Pond and choose which of the real stories—live stories—you will watch. Perhaps some of them will be like those which are written in this book.