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Pondering the pond

A backyard overflowing with flowers, birdhouses, lawn ornaments and, most recently, a Koi pond all tell the story of Sylvia Anderson's 24 years on Jefferson Street and the family she loves.

The mosaic rock planters, made by her husband's uncle, traveled from Anderson and her husband Vernon's Minneapolis home. A sign hanging on the back fence reads "Vern and Sue's Northland Cafe" and hung outside of the restaurant the Andersons operated when they first moved to Wadena in 1974.

And now, Anderson's 13-year-old grandson, Dylan Anderson, has graduated from helping her to maintain her yard after her husband's death to contributing his own special addition to his grandmother's menagerie of lawn decorations.

Inspired by the gift of a little girl statuette from Anderson's son Scott, Dylan and his sister Sayde, 10, determined that Anderson should finally have her long-awaited Koi pond with a water fountain.

They loaded their father's trunk with rocks from their rural home three miles outside Ottertail and started on the project immediately.

"They don't mess around," Anderson said.

Dylan designed the pond and performed the lion's share of the labor for the project, while Sayde helped with the digging and flowers. Dylan toiled at the project for two days under the excited and watchful eyes of his grandmother.

"I was so proud of my grandson," Anderson said. "I couldn't believe that a kid that age could do that."

The completed pond shimmers with coins that visitors tossed into the water and is home to one bright orange Koi fish and three gold fish. Anderson decorated the rock border with a variety of birdhouses made by her son, Stuart. The statuette that inspired the whole project stands at the front of the pond.

Dylan's favorite decorations are two rocks, one from Texas that he said is different from the rocks around Ottertail and a large rock with sparkling, purple patches.

Sayde said she enjoys the flowers she helped plant and the colorful fish.

"I just think it looks really pretty," she said about pond. "It makes a nice touch in the backyard."

Anderson said she looks forward to many mornings of sitting in the yard drinking coffee and listening to the sound of the fountain.

"It's so peaceful," she said, gazing at her grandchildren's handiwork. "It's like my own little world back here."