Tara looked at me strangely when I said I wanted to clean the pond out again, but as I explained it needs a complete empty and refill yearly. Last time was about eighteen months ago and the pump fell over at some stage and was now just pumping the water around in a swirl on the bottom. Perhaps still deterring the mosquitos? Maayyybe….
Not wanting to waste any water I bucketed out as much as I could of the green slimy stuff and watered around the garden, tossing it on the thirstiest looking, until I got it it down to just over a foot deep. I donned Gilbert’s beach shoes and climbed in. Acutely aware that there might be fish still there, I began to scoop up buckets full and pour the water over the rocks. I asked the kids to watch after I threw it to see if there was any flapping, which meant I would have got a fish in the bucket and I’d have to quickly scoop him up before he needed resuscitating. The kids weren’t sure how that would work, but Tai would yell out at random times. “Flapper!” which was code for “I’ve seen a fish” and when I’d straighten up quickly and look he’d yell out ” Nah, just kidding!” Little monkey did that a few times…Grrrrrr.
I wasn’t even sure if there would be any fish in there but a couple of times thought I might have felt something around my legs which was starting to freak me out a bit. Then I saw something quite big and the kids did too and they were getting a bit excited. “It might be a big fish or an eel,” one of them yelled. I stopped and got the mesh scooper and started to try and scoop up rather than bucket and then I got a glimpse of him and now the kids put the idea of an eel I began to think it might be. I wasn’t too happy about being a foot deep in water that an eel might be in, and began to think through how I might get myself out quickly if I suddenly wanted to, when he spun around my legs and did a couple of fast swirls in front of me. I screamed and Wheri started screaming and Kahu started screaming, so we had a reverberating crescendo while I flapped around trying to launch my self outta there, but ended up just sitting on the edge and lifting my feet up.
Nice clean water bubbling on the surface and a tangle of barbed wire
We ended up laughing like anything once we had finished screaming. “Why did you scream Wheri?” I asked. “Cause you screamed,” she laughed, “and it made me scream,”added Kahu. “I didn’t scream, Tai said matter of factly. I was just watching”. I wasn’t really sure if I could put my feet back in now but I sure as hell needed to get this finished tonight as I had one day off and a list a mile long of stuff to do, so steeling myself, back in I went scooping till I got him. A very large goldfish, I plopped him into a bucket of old pond water I had prepared earlier. A slightly smaller one soon followed and then five tiny babies, ‘flappers’ as Tai called them.
By the end I had both Kahu and Wheri in there scooping up the last bits of green water and then a quick clean of the pump and re set it up while the water was filling when I decided to check the pump was still going so climbed out. As I moved towards the shed I caught my leg in the barbed wire I had set at just a foot high around the pond to keep little ones out and immediately fell flat on my face. Both feet were caught and I landed with a thump on the rocks. I just lay there for a few seconds to see if all was well when Kahu asked quietly. “Are you OK Nanny?”, just as Tai began to giggle. I looked to the left of me as I spat out the bit of grass I had managed to bite and right beside my face was a big pooh from Paddy the dog. “Sheesh, that was lucky, I said to the kids, I just missed Paddy’s pooh.” Still completely flat face down I began to laugh out loud at which the kids joined in, imagining me face first in Paddy’s pooh.
Monie, no doubt hearing the uproar, came out to see if I was alright and I marveled at how well I had fared as I extricated myself from the barbed wire which had torn down the back of my calf superficially. I put the barbed wire there to keep the kids out and in ten years, I’m the only one been hurt by it! I brushed myself off and we continued with our task. By nightfall I had refilled the pond, reset up the pump and potted up four tomato plants that I hoped would take us into winter in the glass house this year.
Returning to the pond we gently scooped up the fish to return them to the water but we were gutted to see the biggest fish had died. Damn! The others were OK and we slipped them into the water with squeals of delight from the children as they quickly swam away. We turned back to the dead fish and I looked at it wondering what to do with him. “Is it a boy fish Nanny?” The kids wanted to know. I admitted I had no idea. “I hope it’s a boy,” Wheriko said. “Why darl?” I asked. “A boy is kind’ve useless but at least a girl has babies,” she explained. Hmmm I think I’ll leave that for your Mum to expand on, I thought smiling.