Wind frenzied sleet smashed against our windows with an angry hiss while I snuggled into an afghan and gave a resigned sigh. Itâ€™s April 14, for freakâ€™n sake.Â When will winter move on?Â Yesterday the outside temperature struggled into the anemic 30 degree range, but at least the sun shone for abbreviated moments.
My husband decided to take advantage of yesterdayâ€™s precipitation-free offering and began his annual fish pond cleaning.Â This requires that he sump-pump out the existing water, and once the level is very, very, low, use a net to scoop the fish out of the pond and into two water filled tubs with aeration hoses.Â After a long winter the discoveries in the brackish water remaining in the pond are decidedly gruesome.
Frogs, not realizing the pond has a liner, try to dig in for the winter months.Â It doesnâ€™t work.Â Usually the mortality rate for them is high because of this, and pale bloated bodies litter the bottom. Fortunately my husband has a high â€œgross-outâ€ threshold and carries on. And yet, for reasons we wonâ€™t question, there was an impressive number of frog survivors this year.
Our biggest fear was that our two koi had died.Â Once the snow cover came off the pond it became evident how thick the ice had formed. Had they had enough oxygen to handle the months of cold? Had they gotten somehow caught in the ice?Â To our relief both koi, and all but a few goldfish, were just fine.Â We placed them into the tubs and smiled.
I know, I know. They are â€œjustâ€ fish.Â But the koi came to us as babies.Â They were maybe six inches long, and shy.Â Over the past four years they have grown to be sizable fish, and I love the way they come to the surface to greet me when they see my shadow and hear my, â€œHi guys!â€ in the summer months.Â The fact that I usually have some fish food to offer never hurts, but still, they seem to like me as a person.Â (Readers…just let me be in my happy place, okay?)
I quickly noticed yesterday that once the fish were in the tubs our dog Booker was taking way to much interest in them.Â My husband covered the tubs with heavy boards to protect them until the pond was ready once again, but I worried.Â Booker continued to â€œaccidentallyâ€ wander over to the tubs during the afternoon, and I would scold him for doing so.Â Eventually he seemed to lose interest, but I was leery.Â I encouraged my husband to get the pond ready as soon as possible.
After church today the sleet had us rethinking our outdoor plans for the afternoon.Â My husband said if it let up he would work on the pump and return the fish to the pond.Â I nodded and looked out the window to see if the skies were going to relent.Â â€œOh noooooo!â€ I wailed.Â Out on the snow-covered grass our fish were scattered like orange and white confetti.Â A thin layer of ice covered their still bodies. The protective boards were off the tubs and Booker was nowhere in sight. Guilt does that to a dog.
My husband started swearing (church may have bought him some swearing equity), threw on a coat and raced outside.Â My eyes brimmed with tears as I watched him gently pick up each fish and put it back in one of the tubs. I was crushed and touched at the same time.
A short while later, my husband poked his head inside the house. â€œPut a coat on and come out here.â€Â I did so, reluctant to witness the carnage.Â He lifted off the boards and told me to take a peek inside the tubs.Â The koi were moving! I was speechless.Â â€œMaybe the sleet saved them,â€ my husband said.Â A few of the goldfish were gone, their bodies floated gracefully upturned, adding to my disbelief that the koi were still alive.
Itâ€™s too early to know if there will be any health damage from the shock the poor fish encountered by laying in the ice and snow for, well, who knows how long.
And then there is the matter of Booker. Â When confronted he did a lot of Siberian â€œtalk.â€ Â Woooooo woooo wooo’s translating into, “I couldn’t help myself! Â They were simply too pretty and wiggly to ignore.”
Animal nature is something we all address and live with be it two-legged, four-legged, or scaly. Iâ€™ll get around to forgiving Booker Â because he was being true to his nature. Â That forgiveness might come sooner if the koi are fight back to swim another summer day. Â Hey guys! Iâ€™m glad youâ€™re still with us. Plan on some extra fish food treats when you are feeling better.