Thursday, 25 June 2009

Pond Life *

As with everything in the garden, the pond is work in progress. It all looks a bit raw. The water irises and lilies are hardly lush and the hostas and ferns that will one day scramble lushly over the rocks that surround the waterfall look a bit pathetic. But all the hardware is in place and the electrical wizardry (the waterfall and lights) is in working order. I am particularly pleased with the pedestal pots that the previous owner left lying around. We cleaned them up and re-assembled them and I've planted them with ivy and all-white annuals and the effect is just what I wanted. The water is clear and healthy, judging from the huge number of tiny but fully-formed frogs now hopping out to start their new and exciting lives--well some of them, anyway.

And we have fish. The first to take up residence was one we've had for nearly 20 years. I can't remember how old Andrew was but he announced when he was about 9 or 10 that he wanted goldfish for his birthday. We didn't have a pond then but we bought a big tank and three fishes. I remember Andrew standing in the shop looking very serious as he made his selection. One was almost black, the other was silver and the third pure gold (not orange). Andrew named them Thunder, Flash and Lightning. Unfortunately, for reasons we never discovered, we came downstairs one morning after a few months to find one of them floating on the top of the water. (I can't remember which one because by them they were all beginning to turn the same shade of orange.)

But the two others continued to grow and thrive. One was slightly bigger than the other and always beat his smaller companion to the food. (Not sure which came first- the size or the greed.) The tank sat on the kitchen window sill and before long, Andrew lost interest as other more exciting pastimes took over. He went to senior school, did his GCSEs, A levels, got a job and left home. He didn't want them. Too much trouble, he said. So I continued to clean and feed the fish whose lazy circling of their cramped environment and their delicate trailing tails and fins would soothe my daily chores. with not a little guilt at their captivity.

This continued for many years until about two years ago, the big one became ill and then turned his fins up which left one. Alone, he grew a bit bigger and seemingly sad and lonely.

So, when we began to plan the chapel, we knew we had to have a pond to replace the old one that leaked and was in the wrong position. We were confident it would be ready for our lonely survivor to move into as soon as we arrived. Not so, for reasons that would take too long to explain. He had to be ignominiously housed in a plastic container for the hour or so's journey. Suffice to say, he looked a bit groggy when we got him here but soon returned to his normal lugubrious self in his tank which we put in the utility room. And so he remained throughout the winter and until May.

At last, everything was ready. The water was in perfect condition, the weather clement, the ducks (remember them?) less in evidence. The day arrived to give our fish his freedom. Would he find the hugely enlarged space traumatic. Did fish suffer from agoraphobia or post-traumatic stress disorder? Would he cope with fending for himself and coping with snails, tadpoles and other creatures of the deep?

We needn't have worried. Form the word go, he shot off and raced about the pond as if he'd gone to Fishy Heaven.

But he was still one fish. Time to find him some friends. These came courtesy of John's office where there's a small garden and a pond where the fish breed like rabbits and are overcrowded. The pond is badly neglected and the water littered with crisp packets and plastic cups, the water filthy. So I saw it as yet another rescue mission. They are smaller than our original fellow, paler and one has a red splodge on his nose, but they have certainly grown and all are thriving. Every day I take myself there to stand or sit and am soothed by the sounds and sights of moving water. It's good for the soul and, I hope, good for the fishes too.

* I wonder why we liken the worst kind of people in this world to pond-life? There's nothing more lovely.

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Jo said...

Sally, the pond and garden look beautiful. You and Jon have worked so hard. I read about the fish with interest. Our two both have fish. Matt has had his for about 5 years and it's huge. Megan has 3. Matt longs to be rid of the chore of cleaning them out!

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