#pondlife About


Dispatches from off the grid


August 13, 2025

Narcissus flowers

So why did I come all the way out here away from everyone? My nearest neighbor is a mile away, and there’s no house in sight unless you climb a hill half a mile away. It’s an amazing feeling to have my horizon completely encircled by woods, with no sign of human habitation.

From my little spot I have a distant view of the railroad where it touches the pond on one side, and the fence skirting the woodland road on the other. But most of the time, it’s as solitary here as being out on the prairies. It feels like I have my own private universe.

Coming home at night

August 10, 2025

Nighttime sky showing stars between trees

You might be surprised to learn just how dark it can get in the woods, even on an average night. It’s darker than most people think. Often, I have to look up at the gaps between the trees to find my way, using the faint light from the sky to guide me. When there’s no clear path, I rely on my feet to feel the worn trail or use my hands to recognize familiar trees. For instance, I often pass between two pines that are just eighteen inches apart, even in the pitch-black darkness.

Sometimes, I come home late on a dark and muggy night, my feet instinctively following the path that my eyes can’t see. I walk in a dream-like state, absent-mindedly navigating my way through the forest. It’s only when I reach my door and have to lift the latch that I snap back to reality. There have been times when I couldn’t recall a single step of my walk, making me wonder if my body could find its way home on its own, just like how a hand automatically finds its way to the mouth.

Out on the pond

August 7, 2025

Wooden rowboat with oars

On warm evenings, I often sit in my boat, playing the flute. There’s something incredibly peaceful about those moments. As I play, I’ve noticed perch gathering around, almost as if they’re charmed by the music. Above me, the moon slowly travels across the sky, casting its light over the ribbed bottom of the pond, which is scattered with remnants of the forest.

I remember when I used to visit this pond on adventurous summer nights with a friend. We’d head out in the darkness, making our way to the water’s edge. We’d build a small fire right by the shore, believing that the light attracted the fish. Using a bunch of worms strung on a thread, we’d catch pouts late into the night. When we were done, we’d toss the burning brands high into the air like makeshift fireworks. They’d fall back into the pond with a loud hiss, plunging us into sudden darkness. Whistling a tune, we’d make our way back to civilization.

August rain

August 4, 2025

Water lily floating on a pond

This lake is especially precious during those gentle rainstorms in August. Imagine this: the air and water are perfectly still, the sky is overcast, and mid-afternoon has the serene calmness of evening. The wood-thrushes are singing their beautiful songs, echoing from shore to shore. It’s in these quiet intervals that the lake becomes truly mesmerizing.

At such times, the lake is never smoother. The clear portion of the air above is shallow and darkened by clouds, making the water below appear as if it’s filled with light and reflections. It feels like a lower heaven, turning the lake into something even more significant and awe-inspiring.

Living small

August 1, 2025

Wooden chair with books and a plant on the seat

In my little house, I have three chairs: one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society. When visitors show up in larger and unexpected numbers, they often make do with the third chair or simply stand up. It’s amazing how many great conversations and meaningful connections can happen in a small space. I’ve had up to twenty-five or thirty people under my roof at once, and even though we might not always realize it, we often leave feeling closer to one another.

Many modern houses, both public and private, have countless rooms, huge halls, and cellars stocked with wines and other luxuries. To me, these houses seem extravagantly large for the people living in them. They’re so vast and opulent that the inhabitants sometimes seem like tiny, insignificant creatures within them.

Afternoon activity

July 29, 2025

Lily pads at the edge of a pond

The sights and sounds of nature around me are simply mesmerizing. Hawks are gracefully circling above my clearing, while wild pigeons, flying in pairs and small groups, dart across my view or perch restlessly on the white-pine branches behind my house. Their movement gives a lively voice to the air. Just a moment ago, I watched a hawk dimple the smooth surface of the pond and catch a fish. Not long after, a mink stealthily emerged from the marsh right in front of my door and snatched a frog by the shore.

The sedge is swaying under the weight of reed-birds flitting about, adding to the dynamic scene. And for the past half hour, I’ve been hearing the distant rattle of railroad cars, their sound ebbing and flowing like the rhythmic beat of a partridge. These trains are a reminder that even though I live simply and close to nature, I’m not entirely cut off from the world.

The village

July 26, 2025

View of a small town with a lake in front of it

Every couple of days, I stroll into the village to catch up on the local gossip. It’s fascinating how news circulates there, whether it’s word-of-mouth or through the social media sites. In small doses, this gossip can be as refreshing as the rustle of leaves or the peeping of frogs here at the pond. Just as I enjoy walking in the woods to watch the birds and squirrels, I equally enjoy walking through the village to observe the people. Instead of the wind in the pines, I hear the carts rattling down the streets.

From my house, I can walk in one direction to find a colony of muskrats in the river meadows. In the other direction, under the shade of elms and buttonwoods, lies the bustling village. The villagers, busy with their daily activities, are as intriguing to me as prairie dogs, each one sitting at the entrance of their homes or running over to a neighbor’s to chat. I often go there to observe their habits and interactions.

To me, the village feels like a giant news media site. On one side, to keep the place lively, there are shops selling nuts, raisins, salt, meal, and other groceries, much like an old-time general store. Some villagers have such an appetite for news that they can sit in public spaces for hours, letting the information flow through them like a gentle breeze. It’s almost like they’re inhaling ether, making them numb and insensitive to the potentially painful details of the news. This way, they remain conscious but not overwhelmed by what they hear.


July 23, 2025

Wooden boards

Some of you have asked me how much I spent building the house. Very few people can tell exactly what their house cost, but I can!

Boards (mostly shanty boards) $8035
Refuse shingles for roof sides $4000
Laths $1250
Two second-hand windows with glass $2430
One thousand old brick $4000
Two casks of lime (expensive) $2400
Hair (more than I needed) $310
Mantle-tree iron $150
Nails $3900
Hinges and screws $140
Latch $100
Chalk $10
Transportation $1400
Total $28125


July 20, 2025

Even though I live pretty far off the beaten path, I get some interesting visitors.

Whenever I return to my tiny house after being out for a bit, I often find signs that visitors have been here. They’ve left their own unique “calling cards” – sometimes it’s a bunch of wildflowers, a wreath of evergreen, or even their name scribbled on a yellow walnut leaf or a piece of wood. People who rarely come to the woods seem to enjoy taking a little piece of the forest with them, and they often leave something behind, either on purpose or by accident.

One time, someone peeled a willow wand, wove it into a ring, and left it at the door. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s these little touches that make living here so special. I can always tell when visitors have stopped by in my absence. It might be from the way twigs or grass are bent, or the footprints they’ve left behind. I can even guess their age, gender, or what kind of person they are based on these subtle traces – like a dropped flower or a plucked bunch of grass, even if it’s as far away as the railroad, half a mile from here.


July 15, 2025

Bean sprouts growing out of dirt

Today I want to share with you my adventure in sustainable living: growing my very own beans! It’s been quite the journey, and I’ve learned so much from this little patch of earth.

I planted about two and a half acres of beans. Since the land had only been cleared about fifteen years ago and I had personally removed two or three cords of stumps, I didn’t use any manure. Over the summer, as I hoed the soil, I found arrowheads, revealing that an ancient civilization had once lived here and planted corn and beans long before any white settlers arrived. It seemed they had somewhat exhausted the soil for this very crop.

Growing these beans has been more than just a gardening project; it’s been a journey of discovery and connection with the past. It’s amazing to think that I’m cultivating the same land that ancient peoples once tended. This experience has taught me so much about the resilience of nature and the importance of sustainable living.