We let our imaginations run wild, while playing on the ranch. There were these funny old rusted machinery parts of cars, wagons, and other devices that served as our spaceships for our adventures into outer space. They also made great jungle gyms. There were many levels of the hay-filled barn that begged for games like Hide-and-Go-Seek and Freeze Tag. We had a gigantic rope swing and tree houses that amused us for hours. We spent days and days gathering up tadpoles from the frog pond, only to get in trouble when my mom would find hundreds of frogs hopping around our yard. But on really hot summery days, we'd meet up with our cousins at the swimming pond.
It was located about a mile from our house, sheltered in the nook of a hill. It boasted lots of water snakes, dragonflies, frogs, and even more squirmy creatures that we couldn't see. It got deep enough in the middle that we couldn't imagine touching the bottom, nor did we want to. We swam in blissful innocence, not caring that the water was too murky and dirty and most likely harboring more bacteria than should ever be found in one place. Above all, it was nice and cool. A perfect remedy when running through the sprinkler, or being thrown across the slip and slide by an older cousin, wasn't enough.
On this particular day, most of my cousins joined my siblings and I as we splashed around the pond. We were having a great time cooling off, when someone said they just kicked something big and hairy under the water. We all screamed and paddled out of the water as quickly as we could. "What do we do?" "What's under the water?" "We are going to be eaten alive!" We all voiced our opinions.
One of my cousins ventured back into the water. Without all the splashes and ripples, he could see under the surface a few feet. There, completely covered by three feet of water, was a cow. A very dead cow. How long had it been there? We couldn't tell you, but we had swam in that pond all summer long and hadn't noticed it. We had blown bubbles in that water. We had halfway drown in that water. I'm sure many people had peed in that water. We all sat there, staring at the cow, and wondering just how disgusting our little swimming hole was.
While one of the older cousins went to get one of our uncles, we felt the sun beating on our backs again. It was hot. The water was much cooler. Soon, all of us were back in the pond, swimming away. Surely if we stayed away from the part that had the dead cow, we would be ok. I remember blissfully swimming and splashing happily, as my uncle used one of the tractors and a smart-looking pulley system to heave the cow from the depths of the pond. It looked very mutated and gross, but we turned our backs on it and kept on swimming.
Yes, we were gross, disgusting, and dirty children. I'm surprised we didn't harbor some sort of mutancy from all the bacteria we digested that summer. However, with all fondness, we forever remember that pond as "the pond with the dead cow in it"...and we kept on swimming in it.