Here is my entry for The Daily Nail's There's No Place Like Home Give Away.
I couldn't bear to put so much effort into them on my real nails only to be wiped away in a week or so, so I did them on full acrylics that I shaped for my nails. I hope that's alright. She wanted a story to go along with, so I've included that. I hope it's not to long.
You will notice the addition of flags (the flowers), that aren't mentioned in my story. Those are borrowed from my current home where we have a lovely lake system called Daybreak that's not far from where I live. They've landscaped everything including the water. :) It's just beautiful in the spring when all the flags bloom.
Here is my story:
All my growing up years and my mother's as well since she was born not to far from where I was raised, there has been a ditch that ran right through our property. The Uteland ditch was it's official name, and on it's banks were great masses of cat tails and willows where the red winged black birds would nest and every morning I would hear their warbles as they greeted the new day. In the evenings the frogs and crickets battled to be heard, creating a lullaby to sooth mind and soul.
Dragonflies hummed about, the sun glinting off their metallic bodies and shining through their lace wings. The water skeeters would skate about on the surface, their legs leaving tiny dimples in the water. The "seaweed" that grew on the bottom rippled in the current and was lush and green, every year it would bloom with tiny white flowers. I used to drape it over my head for mermaid hair. It always smelled wet and green, but oh so good.
As fall arrived and the cat tails ripened, we would gather the catkins and burst them by hitting them onto the road, they would explode in great silken puffs that swirled in the slightest breeze. Soon the fluff would be everywhere, clinging to clothes, up noses, in eyes, but they were so soft...and extremely flammable. My brother and I would steal the matches and lay out great swathes of the fluff and then quickly light and throw a match on it. It was instant ignition and with a great WHOOFFF and an instant of searing heat, it would all be gone. We're quite lucky we didn't start ourselves on fire given that we were covered in the stuff as well.
Further up the ditch strange vines grew, and in the shallows you could see the silver darts of tiny minnows. I don't recall anyone ever catching fish in the ditch, and I never saw anything larger than a finger.
Down a bit from the house, there was a bend in the ditch, here the bank was weak and a small spring trickled out and watered a glorious grove of Russian Olives, Cottonwoods and Poplars. It was here that I spent much of my youthful summers, with a tent pitched, a bucket of green apples to be eaten with a liberal does of salt and a good book. This was my haven.
Further down, was a tiny swamp, where the water seeped further back and the willows and cattails mingled. One didn't venture to far in for fear of sinking into the black oily mud. Here the Red Winged Blackbirds would nest in mass, the males singing gloriously as they vied for the attention of the females. There also a family of Muskrats lived. I never saw their actual home, but if one sat quietly on the banks and waited patiently, they would casually swim by on their quest for food. Only to disappear at the sound of a blissful sigh.
Even further down, the banks rose up 20 feet on either side where a hill had been cut in half to accommodate the ditch. It was here that the beavers would build their dam every year or so, causing the water to back up and flood the banks and make the bridge that my brother had made further upstream float precariously. I was the one that silently cheered for the beaver, but the ditch was for irrigation, and as soon as the properties downstream would notice the dwindling supply of water, a call would go out. Our neighbors would drive up in a tractor, perhaps hoping that they would be able to use it to pull out the dam, but more often than not, it was so inaccessible that it had to be pulled out by hand.
Several times I followed that ditch all the way to it's end. Grant Hansen's ponds. Perhaps a 10-15 mile treck, I would try to decipher the animal tracks that I saw along the muddy banks. Most often it was cattle, but also deer, raccoon, rabbits and other small creatures.
That ditch was the food and water of my world. It fed my imagination, it filled my soul. Along those banks I was free to be me with no fear of judgment or rejection. I could find solace in the sound of the waters flow as my mind pondered life. It cared for much of what I held most dear. Along it's banks I was never lost. There I always belonged.