A figure skater would remember the pond this way — frozen solid after a snowfall in December.

The ideal skating surface is the black ice that forms when water cools evenly and freezes on a cold night. You can dream about that, but you are more likely to see this grayish ice that forms when slush freezes after a snowfall. It can be tricky to skate on, but for a skater, any solid surface on a pond is a rare moment not to be missed.

If the picture looks gray, it’s because you’ll probably only see this on a cloudy day. Even in December with air temperatures well below freezing, a touch of afternoon sunshine could provide enough warmth to soften or melt the ice.

hiding place for frogs

Frogs like ponds that are cut off from streams. It’s a place where tadpoles won’t be eaten by fish — and where frogs don’t have to compete with fish for food.

With their thinner skin, frogs are more sensitive than other animals, so they do especially well in a pond that doesn’t draw runoff from areas with suburban lawn chemicals. Frogs born in ponds like this go off to try to settle in other areas, but there won’t be a full population of frogs until the more dangerous outdoor chemicals are not so widely used.

Looking over a scene like this, you see how easily frogs can find places to hide around a pond.