Pond Daddy

You live and you learn when you own a backyard water feature.

photograph by © Alexey Stiop | Dreamstime.com

When my wife and I used to daydream about having our own place, sometimes our wishful thoughts involved having an aquarium. But not just any aquarium: We wanted a big, wall-length sucker stocked full of petite darting wonders so crazily colored they look made-up. It would be a melting pot of South Pacific sea life, right in our own home. We wouldn’t even need a TV anymore, so tied up would we be in the little fish-world soap-opera panorama playing out in our living room.

So we dreamed big. But what we got instead of the super-cool fish tank was a koi pond full of leaves.

The folks who lived in our home prior to us installed a pond sometime in the decade before we moved in. The pond was actually quite attractive when we first viewed the home before buying: landscaped all around with lots of large rocks, pieces of driftwood, and creeping plants. In the pond were live water lilies and Elodea and even fish! Several big goldfish, a school of little goldfish, and even a Kohaku koi (the species of that last is the subject of intense debate) were in the pond.

So, we bought the house. Not because of the pond, of course, but it certainly didn’t present a stumbling block. Once we took possession, I immediately began actively not dealing with the pond. By the time we moved in, it was almost autumn, and getting hands-on with the pond seemed like more of a spring thing. Besides, the fish seemed fine, and I would surely only mess that up by trying anything.

You live and learn. Fall happened, and the trees in our backyard did what comes natural, dropping leaves at a rate that suggested gravity had increased tenfold. You know how they do. Bad news, though: Apparently in the pond with the Elodea and suspected Kohaku is some kind of leaf-attraction device. I’m pretty sure every tree in the tri-state area deposited their leaves in my pond.

So that’s why the next spring I wound up leaning over the pond, up to my elbows in the water, scooping leaves out with my hands, pulling them carefully because I didn’t want to catch any fish. It was nasty business. This is what you get when you don’t cover your pond in the fall. I worked two hours and didn’t get halfway done.

And I loved every minute of it. It was exciting to see the fish hearty and hale even though the pond froze over a few times during the winter. And nothing could change the fact that I wasn’t just cleaning out some dirty pond; I was cleaning out my dirty pond.

Home ownership, if it teaches you nothing else, instructs you on the rewards of being a little bold. You’ll no doubt do things you never thought you’d have to do, and not all of them seem fun on the surface. But don’t be too shy (at this time I can’t bring myself to say “coy”) because, as they say, “El riesgo siempre vive.”

That said, I’ll be covering the pond next time.


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