Today, I received an extraordinary gift. But before I tell that story, I need to give a context for the story which will throw it in ultra-high relief. . .
I came home from a whirlwind 48-hour trip at the stroke of midnight last Sunday morning. The next day, still groggy from lack of sleep, I went out to the car and noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a spot of orange on the surface of the GANG pond. Oops . . .
Reluctantly, I went through the gate and walked over to the pond. Yes, there it was, a dead goldfish. Then I noticed a few other dead fish, floating on their sides.
Other fish lined up with each other, parallel, unmoving, at the bottom of the deepest part of the pond. See them?
And, there were at least three that were alive, moving slowly, and hiding away in a shallow corner of the pond.
Then I noticed that the pond had overflowed. In fact, that it was still over flowing. Somebody had left the water running from the hose in the pond. The hose water was in the process of killing the fish. I guessed there had been at least 100 fish in the pond. How many would die? And what would we do with the dead ones?
I turned off the hose. Within a few minutes one of the smallest fish revived completely, started swimming around like crazy. The others stayed still.
I went in the house and called my son. I needed moral support. Colin came over, and together we started scooping dead fish out, as well as, we discovered, dead polliwogs . . .
… and buried them, a few at a time, in the garden beds. This is a process that I would repeat for the next 24 hours, over and over again, as more and more fish died and floated to the surface on their sides. And polliwogs. At least 50 of them, all together, and I bet I buried 125 fish. I had no idea we had so many polliwogs. In fact, I had never seen a polliwog in the pond, though I had heard rustling, and once in a while, the two adult frogs which I did know were there, would croak and jump. So we learned something about the denizens of our pond on this sad day.
The big question was, would the little school of fish survive without being replenished from outside? An open question.
Within 48 hours of the hose water being turned off, the pond had mostly recovered its oxygen; apparently hose water is not oxygenated, and when you leave the hose on for too long, all the water is replaced and the fish suffocate. At least that’s the theory I tend to believe. I do run the hose when the pond gets low, but never more than about two hours at a time. Lucy, who was caring for the rabbit while I was gone, was the one who had inadvertently left the hose on, and it ran for nearly 24 hours before I discovered it.
By yesterday, the fish were all swimming around like mad, and I counted at least a dozen in there, which surprised me. At first I thought that only about a half dozen had survived. Among the survivors were the two biggest fish, from the original stock three years ago.
Now, here’s where the story of the gift comes in.
This morning, when I went out to the pond, the biggest fish, the one I always think of as a male, the stallion of this little herd, was definitely acting like one, aggressively swimming alongside and trying to corral the second biggest fish. Trailing them both were four or five other, smaller goldfish, who I thought of, at that point, as yearlings, wishing they could get a piece of the action, but it wasn’t gonna happen.
I wondered, “how do fish do it?” How do they have sex?
Well, I got to see it! Right then!
The stallion fish corralled the slightly smaller fish into an area between two reeds next to the side of the pond where she couldn’t get away and right then, what I saw from above was him humping her, thrusting four or five times. But wasn’t really sure that this was what was happening, because couldn’t see that she was underneath until it was over. And she was! He then swam off, and she “stumbled” out into the main body of the pond, and the four or five little ones once again tried to get at her. The stallion then came back and aggressively turned them away, coming after her again! At this point, feeling too much empathy for her, I turned and went back in the house.
So I have a feeling that any worries we had about the little school being able to replenish itself are beside the point.
I tried to take a picture of the two of them together, but they were too fast. But the Mama and Papa frogs both let me take their photos! For the first time. Can you see them? Here are three shots. Try this one first.
He’s in the middle, next to the tall reed. Here’s a slightly closer look:
And the other frog, just then, decided to show herself (pretty sure she’s the female). Hopefully, they will have new babies, soon. (She’s on the carpet, to the right of the red floating leaf.)
Never before, have the frogs shown themselves and sat still for photos.
Rejoicing continues, with the irises, the first of which bloomed on the day the fish died,
now in full array.