Saturday, May 14, 2005

Our Pond Story

We once had a pond full of goldfish. We didn't buy koi, just some nice feeder goldfish from the local pet store. We put them in the pond where they hid from view for weeks and weeks. Then, when they were comfortable they showed themselves to us. They grew beautifully. Some were all gold, some were black and gold, some were gold and white. They were so happy they had baby goldfish, and the pond burgeoned with new life.

The pond is a mere 30-35 feet from the house. Close enough for us to see the fish when they came to the surface for food. There is a little waterfall at the top where robins, goldfinches, hummingbirds, thrushes, and sparrows splash all day long. The tranquility was like a page out of Thoreau.
There were mornings though when we found our pond plants overturned. The pond water stirred into murkiness. We initially suspected night visitors like the one we had in Santa Cruz, raccoons. But one day, a very large blue heron flew into our yard. A bird with a 4 - 5 foot wingspan is quite a sight, in a pond that is only 9 x 12. It stood like a statue next to the pond, waiting. We chased it. It flew away. It came back the next day, and the next. Pretty soon we had only half dozen large goldfish left, and maybe four babies. The black and gold was gone. Winter came and the pond froze. We didn't see the heron or any fish for a long time. Even after the thaw we were convinced that all the fish had been eaten. But back in March, we noticed the same half dozen had survived, along with the babies that were now turning into full colored goldfish. The fish had found some places to hide, and we hoped that all would be well. Into April we saw the goldfish everyday. Then we were sidetracked by the garden, greenhouse, and orchard. We spent less time communing with the pond life, and more with collecting rainfall, starting seed flats and pulling weeds. From our window, the California poppies cast orange reflections on the pond surface, looking much like the goldfish we thought were still there.

A heron hunts at the beach
But just the other day DPR said to me he thought the fish were gone. I had been thinking the same thing. We keep looking, and not a single one is left. Don't know when that heron came back, but it certainly came and had a mighty fine meal

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