Friday, April 9, 2010

My own personal Nemo

We bought our place in summer of 2008 and there was a pretty little pond in the backyard.  We were pretty excited about this because after living in northern alberta for 5 years you don't see to many ponds.  This was part of the lifestyle that we were looking for by moving back to the Vancouver area, i.e. somewhere that had nice weather for more that two months of the year. 

This pond came complete with luscious plants, a waterfall and five tiny coi fish.  Four of them were colorful gold, or gold mixed with black and white.  The fifth one was a shadowy black colour that was very difficult to see.  You more saw it as a void than a fish.  We would feed the fish with our older son during the summer months and they would come to the surface and greedily devour what we sprinkled for them.  Then as the rain came and the water cooled the fish didn't need to be fed so we didn't visit it too much. 

The next spring we excitedly waited for the water to warm up so the fish would be active again.  Occasionally as we were scooping out the masses of leaves from our huge and very old oak tree (seriously it might be 200yrs old) we would see flits of colour as the fish hurried to find a new hiding spot. 

We had been warned that backyard ponds attracted local predators such as heron or raccoons.  In fact at one point in our first summer here our dog was barking at a heron perched on the neighbor's roof, just waiting for its chance to dine at our pond.  The second summer predators struck our pond.  I'm pretty sure it was a racoon since I had recently seen a fat one amble along the back fence.  Slowly the fish dwindled until we thought that they were all gone.

One day I went to check clean out the pond filter and there was my black fish.  I don't know how long he had been in there, but he had probably been fleeing the same hungry raccoon that had gobbled up his friends (assuming that fish really have friends).  I pulled the strainer basket and went to go dump the dead fish and the collected leaves in my compost.  Just as I was about to dump the basket into the compost, the fish moved.  It scared the bejesus out of me and I quickly ran him back to the pond where he swam to the deepest part and hid.  Wow.  Talk about a lucky fish!  At that point I had a 5 month old baby who wasn't sleeping through the night.  I could have easily not noticed it move and it would have, well, met its demise in the stinky compost.

This fish was now a little shy.  It wouldn't bother with the fish food that we gave it and because it was so dark we hardly ever saw it.  I don't blame it for not trusting surfaces creatures anymore... after all look at all it had been through.  Since we didn't see it, we assumed that it was no longer, that it was an ex-fish, pining for the fjords (so on and so forth).  We stopped mentioning it since our older son had taken the loss of the other fish rather badly and we didn't want him to be sad for the fish.

Fast forward a year later and as I was once again trying to rid the pond of the last of oak leaves I encountered our fish.  It was still there.  Elated, I told my husband and older son who were in the yard.  My son's comment was now he wouldn't be sad about all the fish being eaten.  Perhaps this year we'll get some more friends or decoys (whatever) for our little black fish, who I am now thinking of as Nemo because of his survival skills.  I don't think that I'll tell my son about this new moniker since he has only recently seen Finding Nemo for the first time and would be even more saddened if Rocky Raccoon comes back and finishes the job he started.  For now I think we'll just enjoy our little fish and it's spunky survival instincts.

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