People & Places

YWP: The Avoided Pond

Young Writers Project, an independent nonprofit based in Burlington, engages young people to write and use digital media to express themselves with clarity and power, and to gain confidence and skills for school, the workplace and life.

Check out the most recent issue of The Voice, Young Writers Project’s monthly digital magazine. Click here.

Each week, VTDigger features a writing submission – an essay, poem, fiction or nonfiction – accompanied by a photo or illustration from Young Writers Project.

YWP publishes about 1,000 students’ work each year here, in newspapers across Vermont, on Vermont Public Radio and in YWP’s monthly digital magazine, The Voice. Since 2006, it has offered young people a place to write, share their photos, art, audio and video, and to explore and connect online at For more information, please contact Susan Reid at [email protected].

“Where My Heart Lives,” by Astrid Longstreth, 12, of Jericho.

When you’re not a seasoned hiker, it can be hard to focus on anything but the gnats and mud during a jaunt about the woods, but there is gravity in the inability to appreciate your surroundings. This week’s featured writer, Vivien Sorce of Hinesburg, reminds us it takes only a few moments for the cloudiness kicked up from the bottom of the pond to settle and reveal in clear, reflected focus the beautiful sparkle of the natural world. 

The avoided pond

By Vivien Sorce, 15, of Hinesburg

I fold restless legs underneath myself and connect more of myself with the soft, red pine needles and well-trodden dirt, with the rest of our group in similar states of settling down. The sarcastic comment made as we viewed the dark pond sticks in my mind: “We aren’t walking through that, are we?”

I think of the abundant ecosystem the same pond provides, and yet the residue it leaves also makes it unpleasant and unwelcoming. I imagine getting into the water, and the thought of it makes me shiver.

We humans are the reality of reflection in a scummy pond, with our flaws, the algae, built up over time, obscuring the connection to our source. Without the still surroundings of branch and wood, we would not exist; we are a mirror image dependent on origin.

Muddied by the ripples of war and detachment, we sometimes shake as if trying to selfishly rid nature from casting an imprint on us, as if we can be completely independent. We are small but perceive ourselves as huge. We don’t move or flow; we remain absolutely stuck in our ways. Our claustrophobic presence infects surroundings with untreadable mush. Our stagnant water repels animals.

Once a welcoming place, the algae-covered water films over intended potential and speaks with the first impression of “gross.” 

Even as young, we must retain our place in the murky influence of our habitat and only escape as frogs once bias has already been absorbed. We only see one viewpoint in the nature around us and rarely care to explore for other better-looking realizations. If only a trench could be scraped out, to let our reflection ripple in change instead, to let us travel and truly see the beauty out there — to wash away our slime and become the clear water our fellow mammals enjoy. If only we could ebb and flow, not be pitted against each other in ownership, and work with the land.

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