Friday, June 17, 2011

Pond Scum

If you read a few posts back you’ll come across my entry about the water feature. [1] 
 I drone on and on about how deserving I am to have such a luxury and how unfair it has been to have one withheld for longer than I can remember.   I even ran a contest to “name that fish,” because there was one left in the pond.   Let me give you an update:

Our landlord and his wife “Rebecca” came out to fix the water feature.  Cheng Feng put on some galoshes and cemented some obvious cracks that were causing the leak.  Watching concrete cure is  just plain time consuming-ly BORING, as any Paesano concrete contractor will tell you.  So for several awkward minutes the four of us stared into an empty rock pit.   Rebecca and Cheng Feng exchanged words we couldn't understand and then motioned to us.  Shaking their car keys gave us another clue; they wanted to take us somewhere. Ah!  Once again the language barrier had us all in the dark on this bright and blue-skied Saturday in Nanjing, China.  But we left the safety of our lush green courtyard and climbed into the landlord's BIG BLACK car and sped off.  Abduction did cross my mind and a childlike chant of “Stranger Danger, never go with Strangers” played in my brain, as did a scene from The Lovely Bones. [2]  Their smiles broadened with each mile.  I drifted off into recalling   a smiling witch in the tale of Hansel and Gretel- another twosome who were clueless in the habitat in which they found themselves...

We pulled into… a landscape market.  A mega-market with booth after booth of locals selling annuals and indoor plants. It seriously went on for a half-mile of aisles.  Rebecca helped me negotiate for four substantial pots of wave petunias, each costing about $1.50 USD. I was so happy I started to grin my own witchy grin.
The Big Guy and Cheng Feng went off to look for fish for our now repaired water feature & after some major fish-monger barking and bartering in Mandarin returned. A giant clear plastic bag slung over the landlord's shoulder and was then gingerly placed in the trunk alongside my 'catch of the day-' petunia pots. The bag sloshed away as we sped home. (Note: We weren't abducted or anything!) Soon our fresh catch was added to the newly-filled pond.  More grinning and pure happiness, too!

The next several days were spent reading up on koi, their happy habitats and nutritional needs.
                          We learned that koi eat mosquito larvae and pupae that may be hidden under water plants. Having a 'bubbler' would increase the oxygen necessary to have healthy koi and decrease the mosquito probability because the surface water would not be stagnant.   This sounded better and better; a water feature and LESS mosquitoes! 
                          Win-Win!  Subsequent mornings before work the Big Guy went out to the pond  to “check on the fish” before a day at the office.  (He’s so dang adorable sometimes!)

All was going along quite swimmingly.  We purchased a 'bubbler,' counted fish daily & observed the water lily growth until... the level on the pond began to drop by two inches every day.   Oh my…the crevices and cracks were not sealed and the pond needed draining AND repair.  Oy! Koi!  I was out of town when this occurred so I missed the drama, but it didn’t end there.  

Draining the pond required a place to put our 16 fish.  Carefully placed water-filled big blue buckets sat under the wisteria and grape-vined pergola.  Our babies were out of the direct sunlight while a repair was planned.   Upon checking on the fish buckets one morning before work, the Big Guy discovered that all 16 fish DISAPPEARED!!!   This is not what was supposed to happen…even the shiny bright orange original koi that sprung all of this into action in the first place was GONE!  Drats!

How could I continue with my blog? Will my credibility be dashed by this atrocity? What about my loyal readership and the contestants who spent time coming up with names for our first born fish? [3]
 After those questions wafted through my noggin unanswered, I decided the predicament was probably not about ME and MY blog but about the fish, MY fish!   ><>

   Where they went is anybody’s guess.  A heron?  A feral cat? Highly unlikely because there was no physical evidence at the scene of the big blue bucket.  Doubtful that a bird or a cat would make 16 trips back and forth over the courtyard wall or under the gate with its lucky find.  Furthermore, if devoured at the scene of the crime one would expect some remnant of our gilled pets. ( Sometimes my CSI-crime scene investigative skills amaze me!)

 The only answer was that someone came into our gated yard and took them.  Sad.  What should we do?    Doing a  mother bear-like stomp  from villa to villa accusing people (in English) of capturing our 16 unnamed koi  in an accusatory tone would backfire miserably.  Proving that the fish in THEIR pond were definitely OUR fish, because we’d “recognize them anywhere,” was also ludicrous.  Silly Westerners. 

A week later the pond was drained and decaying leaves mucked out since they likely harbor mosquito larvae, as we learned.  Next steps?  A silicone repair over the cement and an all-out search & destroy mission for all cracks and crevices.  Hopefully the leaks will be repaired,  then “To market, to market, to buy some more koi.”  This time without our landlord’s help.  The Big Guy is a persistent one and will surely see this through, although his grin isn't quite as bright as when he started the project... Oy! Koi!

[Take note that “yours truly,” has not lifted a delicate pinkie on her lily-white hand to help in this whole undertaking…except for whining and writing “You’all” about it twice now.   Fiddle-dee-dee!
I will mumble this to you…and don’t tell the Big Guy…but I’m starting to see why a ‘water feature’ was withheld from my grasp for decades.   Pssssssssst… lean in – “cos it’s a LOT of work, and a pain in the NECK, that’s why!"  That’s between you and me…right?]

Thanks for Reading,

[3] Submissions were:  Peng Yu, Icthus, Figment, Dolly, Gordon, Nemo, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Dale, Aquaman, Teddy, Pisces & Noen.


Anonymous said...

The pool in our back yard is much the same, without koi. It takes much attention and assorted chemicals--and keeps dear John busy! MD

Cindy said...

Too Funny!! I still don't want to believe there are fish thieves in the neighborhood. Maybe there is still and unknown clue! Did Casey alert you to any intruders?....better keep a close eye on her! ;-)

Allison said...

Hopefully koi are less costly in China than in the states! Oh koi, indeed!

Becca said...

That's a hoot! Except for the poor fish, for whom I'm dreadfully sorry. A fish thief - horrors! Obviously there is more than one kind of pond scum in your neighborhood!

You're smart to stay removed from this situation :)