Monday, March 26, 2007

The Cleaning of the Ponds

After Katrina, people who had swimming pools and fishponds in their yards often came home to some nasty surprises. One acquaintance found a dead man floating in her swimming pool. Others found cats and dogs. Another friend found a large, live reptile with lots of sharp teeth in his bathtub. He knew the teeth were sharp because it bit him.

We have two fishponds. Our first pond, located in the side courtyard, is a small square sunk in the ground and rimmed with bricks. The other, in the backyard, is a big old 19thc copper bathtub (that’s another story…). Normally the Cleaning of the Ponds is an annual event. But our fishponds were last cleaned in the spring of 2005. That’s right: they haven’t been cleaned out since Katrina. Eeewe.

Whenever one of my chicks leaves my nest, I go outside and work in my garden. Yesterday after Sam left, I suggested Steve and Danielle join me and clean out the fishponds. The pond along the courtyard went under the floodwaters, with the result that the goldfish that once lived there all swam away. (I like to think they somehow drained back out into the lake, but I know the truth is they probably ended up fertilizing someone’s garden.) There were a few nasties floating in that pond when we got home, but nothing bigger than a dead rat. We raked out the dead rats and assorted other debris, plugged in the fountain to keep away the mosquitoes, and put a more extensive cleanout on the list of “things to do later.” The copper tub in the backyard sits above ground and therefore made it through the storm in pretty good shape. Again, it got a quick cleanup, but apart from occasionally throwing some food to the surviving fish, it has also been patiently awaiting its turn.

I must confess, Steve and Danielle did most of the actual work in cleaning the ponds. I spent the day deadheading roses, repotting some plants that have somehow survived in broken pots since Katrina, and directing where in my garden all that nice, nutrient-rich water goes. My poor garden still hasn’t recovered from the storm. I lost a lot of plants and I simply haven’t had the time or energy to replace them yet. But it still amazes me how many plants actually made it through the deluge. In fact, those that survived their dousing with lake water have flourished. So I’m hoping they’ll like revisiting that experience with a little dose of pond water.

We all ended the day exhausted but very pleased with our work. The backyard goldfish are happy, since they can now see where they’re going, and the courtyard pond has been restocked with a new supply of fish happy not to be bought by someone intending to feed them to a larger creature. And our worst fears were not realized; all we found at the bottom of the ponds were a few stray shingles, a piece of wood, and lots and lots of muck.


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm mildly disappointed that you didn't find more interesting things in your ponds. Maybe some Spanish gold washed in from a long sunken Galleon.

cs harris said...

Ah, now that would have been nice!

Sphinx Ink said...

I love gardens, especially with ponds, although I hate to do the work involved. Hence, I do not garden. I love visiting other people's gardens, however, so please invite me to see yours!

Carl said...

Sorry for the difficulties you encountered after Katrina. However you seem to have done a nice job getting your ponds looking good again.
Good luck with your ponds!

Carl- Fish as Pets