New fallen snow is so pretty before the dogs pee on it. That’s what I was thinking this morning as I gazed in momentary contentment over the ravine out back. Then unbidden my eyes fell upon the three by five foot pit just beneath the Sun Room windows. That hole has been there for almost five years now. It makes washing the back windows a real adventure.
You’re probably wondering how a three by five death trap ended up behind my house. It was my idea. When we moved into this house on the ravine I wanted a pond.
“This is a bad idea,” Bob stated, trying to reason with me. “Raccoons will eat the fish. It’ll fill up with leaves in the fall. And this spot is too sunny. A pond here will be more work than you’ll want to do.”
Bob can be a real buzz kill. I know this so I’m always prepared.
“We’ll dig it deep enough that the fish will have a place to hide and stay cool when the sun is too hot. Plus we’ll fill it with pond plants. It’ll be great! Trust me!”
“Every time you say, “trust me”, chaos breaks out. You super glued a popcicle stick to the dogs nut sac! You…..”
“Whoa! Hold the phone! I admit I have bad luck with super glue……”
“That poor dog would call it more than bad luck.”
“It was an unfortunate accident. That’s all in the past. This is today. Come on, lets go get some pond building stuff. You’re gonna love this! I’m so excited! Aren’t you exicted?”
Digging the hole was booger of a job. I ended up finishing it because Bob digs too slow. He actually stopped digging because it was raining. Can you believe that? I could have built the frame too but I’m not allowed to handle power tools anymore. (Minor blunder with the drill) Between the two of us we had that pond up and running in a couple weeks. It was beautiful and serene, until it wasn’t.
The first thing that began to run amuk was algae. I had to climb down into the pond to pull it out. I’d grab handfuls of long green, slimy strings and pitch them off to the side of the pond. Sometimes only part of the goo would fly out and the rest would slip down my sleeve into my armpit. Occasionally while I was in there de-sliming, fish would nibble on my crooked toe. I guess it looks like a curly worm under water.
While I was still cleaning algae buckets of leaves started finding their way into the pond just as Bob, the naysayer had predicted they would. I scooped furiously every day for a time so he couldn’t say, “I tried to tell you.” This a favorite phrase of his and I’d rather jump up and down on a bed of nails than hear it. I’ve become pretty darned creative over the years in hiding lots of stuff. But I tell you truly no one could have kept up with those leaves.
It didn’t take too long to talk Bob into buying some Koi. I’d read Koi become pretty friendly and live like…forever. So I focused on their longevity when trying to get Bob past the extravagant price tag on these fish. In the end he bought 4 large Koi at a price I refuse to admit to and 4 small ones. I LOVED those fish. Koi are like dogs with scales. (I swear, it’s true) They were always happy to see me, wagging their little fish tails and making kissy faces at me. These Koi were so tame they ate out of my hand on the first day. I named every one of them. I’d like to say they came when I called their name but in their defense it’s hard to hear under water. So in spite of the algae and leaf situation, life was good on, Pam’s Pond, until Walter went missing.
At first I thought, “He’s keeping cool on the bottom somewhere under a rock ledge.” But in truth, like the other seven, Walter never missed a meal. Still he had to be there, right? Fish don’t walk. The next day, Stella Gillswinger, went missing too. Did they elope? Not bloody likely. Another of Bob’s stupid predictions was coming to pass. Raccoons were, indeed, using our pond as their personal fishing hole. Happily, Bob had no clue two of the large expensive fish he’d paid for, cringing notably as they ran his card, had gone missing. Or that every thing he’d warned me about had come to pass. It was my job to make sure he remained clueless.
Early that evening I went to the aquarium and bought two of the largest goldfish I could find. They didn’t remotely resemble Walter or Stella but …come on….Bob can be staring right at a can of tuna in the pantry and still call out, “Are we out of tuna?” They were fish…close enough.
As I placed the bag with the two imposters into the pond I came upon my first murder victim. She floated there on her side and I didn’t need to poke her to know she was deader than my ability to eat cabbage without farting. Bob was due home any minute. I could “not” let him see the body. What to do?
I ran for the net, netted her lifeless corpse, and lobbed her off the side of the deck into the seventy-foot deep ravine behind our house. Only she didn’t lob, she fell straight down onto the ledge behind the deck, her body clearly visible from Bob’s favorite yard chair if he just chose to look down.
For the next several weeks I was a lobbing fool. The ledge under our deck had become a bone yard. Dead fish hung from bushes like Christmas ornaments. One even managed to land in a tree branch overhanging the barbecue grill. No matter how hard I swung that net I could not get them to fly far or straight enough to make the drop into the ravine. A couple times I came close but they hit a tree and bounced back.
Then eureka! I had it! The long handled pool skimmer would be a much better tool for catapulting dead fish! It took three tries before I finally got a good swing off because that skimmer handle was so long it kept hanging up on deck chairs and side tables. And once…somehow….it knocked my MILs yorkie into the pond. (I needed to get that fish out of sight, like NOW so I admit the decision of which to do first, resuce or fling took longer than it should have) But fortunately on that third try BAM! I’m telling you, that fish flew like she had wings! Only somehow….don’t ask me….it disappeared before I completed my swing. The damnable fish had flown backwards.
I looked everywhere for that for the missing body. Even though I didn’t hear a splash I still checked the pond because, yes, I was “that” desperate. I had to get the dog out anyway so it was sensible. Bob’s so far unspoken, “I tried to tell you,” echoed over and over in my head. I “had” to find that fish! Looking heavenward I began to pray for a little fish finding guidance. The Lord works in mysterious ways because there hanging ever so slightly over the gutter was a blue and white fish tail.
“Yeegads! I’ve roofed it!”
The back deck already smelled like dead fish. So far I’d been able to convince Bob that the pond just smelled fishy. He wrinkled his nose and bought an outdoor fan. I guess it never occurred to him to look over the side of the deck. But a fish hanging off the edge of the roof right next to our son’s bedroom window might prove to be problematic. I had to get that sucker down or this would become another one of the dinner stories Bob shared with our friends, like the mouse fiasco. (we’ll get to that later)
Fortunately the section of roof I needed to reach was perfectly flat. No one was home so I went upstairs, removed the screen and crawled out. Piece of cake! I didn’t realize how big that fish had gotten until I picked it up. Not only did it require two hands but because it was so slippery I had to hug it to my chest to keep from dropping it. All of this was fine with me until I got to the window and realized I couldn’t hold the fish with both hands and climb back through the window. I’m 5’2” which basically means I’m a human weeble. I have short legs that barely get my butt high enough to sit in a chair. No way was I able to toss a leg over the window sill while holding a dead fish between my chesticles with both hands. I did the only thing I could. I tossed the fish through the open window and climbed in behind it.
The dogs had been standing at the foot of the stairs waiting for me to come back down. As I leaned down to retrieve the former pond resident, I heard eight paws scrabbling across the kitchen floor, sliding and bumping into things in their extreme excitement. Bob was home. “Hey girl!” he called out to me. “Where are you?”
“I’ll be down in a second,” I shouted back, shoving the dead fish under Jake’s bed then rushing over to close the open window and replace the screen.
“Did you buy fish today?”
OMG! I’d forgotten about the bagged fish floating on the pond!
“What? I can’t hear you. Wait till I come down,” I called back, buying time to think of an answer.
I waited for Bob to go back to our room to change his clothes then grabbed the fish and raced down the stairs planning to toss the blasted thing into the trash outside and be done with it. But as I raced round the corner from the foyer to the kitchen the fish slipped out of my hands and our Golden Retriever, Lucy, followed closely by her side-kick, Lola, grabbed it and ran.
“Drop it!” I hissed.
I tried to sneak up on her but she saw me, flipped directions and ran toward the bedroom where Bob was changing out of his work clothes.
“Lucy! Lola! Get back here! Come! “ I squeaked, chasing after them, hoping to head them off before they made it to the bedroom.
“The dogs have one of your fish!”
“WHAT??? NOOOOO!” I exclaimed as I entered the bedroom. “Well, that’s it then. We can’t keep that pond if our own dogs are gonna be killing the fish.” I turned and cast the most dramatically disappointed expression I could muster at the two tail wagers. “How could you?”