Gosh. I was gonna say Internet K-hole, but you meant outside.
There’s a tiny pond, or there was, near the base of Mount Iwaki in Japan. I used to go fishing there, and though I never caught a single fish, it was where I went. I was away from the world, alone, and I could think. Or not think. I once met an old man there, and old doesn’t do him justice, he was ancient, possibly older.
My Japanese at the time was decent, and my understanding of Tsugaru-ben was minimal, but I could generally get the gist of what my grandmother was trying to say (usually, ‘are you hungry?’, ‘are you going to the hot bath?’, or ‘does your back hurt?’)
Anyway, this old guy lacked any fat at all, and had the slim muscles of a laborer. He probably never picked up anything heavy, but he picked it up a million times. His hair was as white as hair gets - kung fu movie white, and unkempt. He was wading in the pond, pulling out whatever plant was growing in it, and throwing it up on the bank. From time to time, he would find a dead fish, and hold it for a moment, regarding it, before also throwing it up on the bank.
After a time, he noticed and greeted me, and I did my best to be polite, bowing deeply, and using the most respectful words I knew. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, in a deeply rural version of an already deeply rural dialect, that he was trying to keep the pond alive. He’d been coming to that pond since he was a child, and he’d seen generations of folk enjoying it, and now it was dying, and he couldn’t bear to let it. So he was clearing the plants so the fish could keep the pond alive.
I said ‘thank you’ and told him that I appreciated his effort, because I also enjoyed the pond, that it was a refuge for me. He got back to work.
I had never seen him before, and never saw him again, and years later, the pond was closer to death than ever. It may now be gone. I spoke with my wife and her mother on the subject, and described the old man. This was in a town of maybe 85 or a hundred residents, and they surely would have known who he was. They didn’t, and my wife insisted at the time he was a kappa. I don’t believe in such things, but I remember that upon meeting and parting, I did bow deeply, and he returned it, so perhaps that saved my life. Who could say?
There’s a spot in Virginia, atop a mountain, just a bit over the border from West Virginia, somewhere, I wouldn’t say. I called it my secret pond, and it reminded me of that pond in Japan, only the fish were easier to catch. I never saw anyone there, but I saw evidence of bonfires and beer. If you geocache, perhaps you’ll find it someday.
These are sacred sites, I suppose. I have found a couple near me here, but none that really speak to me yet. Perhaps I will find one soon.