I'm not really sure who started this. I'd like to claim credit, but I'm pretty sure Nemesis and Quill were the ones who instigated this whole thing...mostly because Dad threatened to throw me in the last time he caught me drilling holes in the pond. (Translation: we used it for ice skating, and he kept tripping over my excavation sites.)
Anyway, it was getting to be summer, and the pond had not yet melted. Actually, since the weather went from 20 to 70 degrees in about 24 hours, this wasn't terribly surprising. Spring? What's spring?
I'm pretty sure Nemesis and Quill either realized that the skating season was over, or they just didn't hear Dad threaten to freeze my skinny kiester off. They went to town in the center of the pond, managing to open up a pretty big hole and breaking clean through the ice to the water below before they called me out to take a look. Despite my annoyance that they hadn't invited me, I trotted out to gaze into the fathomless (read: five foot) depths of the Arctic Sea (read: pond).
"Hey, that's pretty cool," I nodded, tracing the edge of the ice/water boundary with my hand and promptly freezing my digits clean off (read: I was a wuss). "That's...what, a foot thick? Foot and a half?"
"Yeah," Quill nodded eagerly. "Isn't it cool?"
My mind was already spinning furiously (translation: trying to figure out an excuse to push Nemesis in). "Agreed," I confirmed, standing up and taking a few steps back casually. My siblings mirrored my moves; long years spent with me had taught them to always move the direction I was. It made it harder for me to flank them. We all froze, though, as a crack was heard.
"Please tell me that was your stomach," I muttered; despite the danger, I was always happy to pull an Ice Age quote.
"I think the ice pulled away from the side of the pond a bit," Nemesis pointed.
"That was already like that," Quill pointed out. "The stones there helped it melt."
"So we're standing...on a free piece of ice...with a hole in the middle," I thought out loud, scanning the surface of the pond. Now that I knew what I was looking for, it was the work of a few moments to spot it. "It cracked! Right across the hole!"
"We're not going to fall in, right?" Quill asked nervously.
"Please," I scoffed. "This is a foot and a half thick. I think we just weakened it enough to--MAKE AN ICE FLOE!!!"
I started running closer to, and then backing away from, the hole. The stress eventually caused the pond to literally split in the middle. We had an ice floe!
Quill had, by this point, retreated to the shore. No amount of entreating could get her back out the ice, so Nemesis and I tried running back and forth across one of the halves in an attempt to break it up. After an eternity (translation: five minutes), we gave up.
"Let's get the ax and score the ice," I suggested, thinking back to how Dad made our sidewalk. "It should crack along the...uh, stress lines." I was quite proud of myself for remembering a phrase like "stress lines."
Nemesis agreed almost instantly, figuring that I had hatched a plot to dominate an ice floe and wanting one of his own. We got the ax and a few hoes and went to town on the ice. About thirty minutes later, our patience was rewarded as the ice cracked. I immediately and predictably claimed the biggest floe, Nemesis the second biggest, and Quill took the last one. We pushed them around with the hoes for a while, but given that we couldn't actually shuffle them due to their size, it got boring after a while and we ran off to the woods.
The nest day, we decided to revisit the ice. This time, when I stepped out on the ice, it cracked almost instantly, giving me two floes instead of one. I yelped.
"What?" Nemesis demanded, before seeing what I'd done. "Hey, cool. Wonder if I can get mine into two?"
"Try it, lardbutt," I suggested (translation: we'd just found out that he outweighed me by twenty pounds and I was still a little sore about it).
Nemesis stuck out his tongue at me and skipped out on the ice, jumping on a few choice spots and breaking Quill's floe into three pieces and his into four. I threw a hoe at him. "Oh, come on!"
He caught it deftly. "Want me to do yours?"
"Shut it," I growled, managing to break my floe into five pieces a few minutes later.
"I'm not trying that," Quill told me, stepping gingerly onto the ice. I gave her a hoe, too (maybe a bit less violently than I had given Nemesis his) and we started shoving ice around. After a few minutes of ice-boating around, we decided to quit laying claim to the ice chunks (translation: we kept forgetting who owned what, there was so many floes floating around).
"Ice duel!" I yelled and jumped from floe to floe to challenged Nemesis with my quarterstaff (read: rake). We fought back and forth across the ice until Nemesis managed to jump on a floe and shove off, getting far enough away that I couldn't get to him. I was not terribly upset (translation: Quill sneaked up behind me and challenged me almost instantly).
It took us longer than usual to get bored with dueling. Once done, we sailed around for a while, trying to come up with a new game.
"I got it!" I finally yelled.
"Got what?" Nemesis asked, poling his way over to me.
"You! Tag! You're it!" I snickered, smacking him on the shoulder and punting his floe far enough away that he couldn't tag me back (and so fast that he almost fell in the water).
"Hey guys, what's up?" Squirrel asked.
"TAG!" Nemesis yelled as he got Quill.
"Nope," Squirrel announced cheerfully as she picked up a garden implement and chose a little floe for herself on the far side of the pond.
Quill shot after me; I switched floes and shoved my previous floe out of jumping distance as Quill landed on it. Quill hooked mine and started pulling me back. I jumped from mine to a new, wayyy too small floe and used it as a springboard to get to a bigger one.
"I can't believe that worked," Quill informed me as the small piece of ice bobbed to the surface a few moments later.
"I'm good," I informed her.
That was pretty much our day right there. We raced back and forth across the pond, the only minor incident occuring when Nemesis missed a jump to the side of the pond and landing in the shallows. We almost fell over laughing as Nemesis hopped around, shrieking like a banshee (read: he got ice water in his boot). We finally gave it up and went inside, mostly because it was time for supper.
The next day, we eagerly raced out to the pond. I won the race, which was a really good thing for the others, since I got to be the one to find out the floes were unstable (translation: the first three cracked underneath me, forcing me to keep jumping until I found a solid one).
"Why did those break?" Quill asked.
"I think it's because they're melting from the top down," I explained, starting to grin. "They're getting thinner. We're basically going to be playing Russian Roulette out here today!"
Quill, Nemesis, and Squirrel shrugged and followed me out onto the ice and we started playing tag again. Everyone fell in at one point--Nemesis went first, splashing down in the shallows; Quill followed his example, and Squirrel technically fell in over by the bank, but she was so close to the edge that she barely got her boots wet.
Unfortunately, I had the most epic plunge.
I was getting chased by Nemesis and launched myself at a nice, big, promising floe, which immediately betrayed me (translation: it split right down the middle, where I landed, and dumped me in the drink). Because I'm so lucky (read: not lucky at all), I was right above (translation: in) the deepest part of the pond, which was about five and a half feet deep. At sixteen, I was six feet tall. You'll note two things: one, that is an incredibly embarrassing age to be jumping around on ice floes like a complete moron (translation: I am an unrepentant ice jumper and will keep on doing it!) and two, that only leaves six inches of me that was not submerged. Also, the nearest way to get out was the ice...and what is ice known for?
Yeah, being really freaking slippery.
Actually, to be perfectly honest here, I didn't mind, for the first two seconds. Apparently, my body took a few moments to process the reaction, which gave my mind time to think, Oh, hey, this wasn't as bad as I thouaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII--
Okay, that last thought may have escaped through my vocal cords (translation: it definitely escaped through my vocal cords). I started scrabbling around for ice floes, trying desperately to heave my freezing kiester back onto something that would not feel like it was quickly removing various body parts. (Yes, I realize the irony of using ice to prevent myself from freezing. Now, anyway. At the time, it was not so much ironic as it was necessary, so hush up.)
It took me an embarrassingly long period of time to realize wading towards the bank would be faster than chasing ice floes around, but when that thought finally percolated through my ice-covered neural pathways, you better believe I acted on it. I found myself on the bank moments later, throat and siblings inexplicably sore (translation: I'd been screeching continuously the entire time and my siblings pulled stomach muscles, they were laughing so hard). Fortunately, it was 75 degrees out, so I plopped down on the ground to warm up and dry off a bit...before getting right back on the ice.
However, we did eventually learn common sense.
(Translation: we totally do this every spring.)