Entries Tagged as 'missing fish'

Morlocks Live In Our Pond

Morlock FishBrittle boards pop like firecrackers under my bare feet as I step gingerly across the icy porch. “Sau-aul!” I call out. My breath becomes a million tiny ice crystals reflecting the meager light that spills from the open kitchen door behind me. Beyond the porch railing, the back yard is a broad semicircle of nothingness. Stygian black, completely silent, vastly cold. And roaming around out there is a Stygian-black collie.

It’s my own fault. Never ask a dog if he wants to go out right before bedtime unless you’re reasonably sure the answer is no. It’s really more of a courtesy anyway and puts you on the moral high ground if he does wake you up later, legs crossed, meaningfully eying the door.

I can’t see anything, and my calves are beginning to ache because I’m standing on tiptoe. Unlike calves, tongues and toes must have great personalities because we subject them to a lot and they rarely complain. (What the brain tells the tongue to say doesn’t count.) That jalapeno popper searing your fingerprints off? Pop it in your mouth! And toes? They regularly sacrifice themselves on cold tile floors, hot asphalt, and at this moment a frozen deck that the just-arrived sheepdog relishes as a large, flat snow cone.

“Saul!” I call out, beginning to get annoyed. It’s after midnight, 8 degrees, and I’m standing outside in shorts, for Pete’s sake! I grumble back into the house for a flashlight. Correction: The flashlight; the 4lb, 16″ black aluminum Maglite torch with knurled grip. This is the kind of flashlight that cuts through fog and thunderstorm like a lance, and will lay out cold a burglar with one whack. Carry one of these, and the only guy who won’t envy you is the state trooper who is trained to use his own state-issued Maglite to take down wildebeest. He’ll politely tip his hat and ask you to help direct traffic.

A light saber hums in my mind as I sweep the light across the yard. Movement along the fence grabs my attention. Narrowing the beam, I zoom in on twin points of light close to the ground. A pair of eyes gaze back at me for a moment, then turn back to surveying the stump that the intelligence behind them is contemplating peeing on.

“Saul, come on!” I waggle the light back and forth, he snorts something in collie under his breath and starts back toward the house. Past experience teaches that collies are easily detoured on their way to and from places. So, I wait, slowly scanning the woods for any results to add to the log of my periodic contributions to the search for Bigfoot. Nothing.

Checking the pond to make sure Saul hasn’t waded in for a drink, I glimpse a tiny underwater flashbulb. What in the world? Another flicker answers a few feet away. Those flashes look like …

Fish! Our fish are back! The pterodactyl didn’t eat everyone after all! I quickly count 11, but it’s hard to see from here, so I bound down the frozen steps to the “promenade” and lean out over the water. Telltale pairs and triples of orange, gold, and silver speckle the pond bottom like Dejah Thoris’ costume jewelry. Where’d they come from? Where’ve they been?

His muzzle dripping from an unnoticed but satisfying drink, Saul saunters up the stairs unconcerned, as if to say, “Yeah, so? They’ve been here all along. They come out every night. You just never come out to drink at the right time.”

Saul was correct. The bizarre truth is that every morning now, the pond appears to be completely empty of fish. They’ve bugged out to their secret subterranean redoubt. Only after the sun disappears do our little Morlock friends come out to play.

Their numbers are greatly reduced, but 11 smart Rambo fish are better than no fish. Whether this is a normal display of a heretofore unobserved survival skill or just a trick that Snug Harbor fish have learned, I’m happy to know that they’re out there. I’m guessing that we’ll see more of them in daylight as things begin to warm up a bit. All the more reason for us to let fly the barrage balloons and post ack-ack around the perimeter.

What that state trooper doesn’t know is that it’s your wife’s Maglite; a fact she enjoys reminding you of. Never mind that it came to her via the same “Dirty Santa” game a few years back that you walked away from with a copy of Steel Magnolias and a basket of bath soap.

Rest in Pisces

Stupid blue herons ate us all up!While waiting for the dogs to finish their breakfast this morning, I went out and restarted the waterfall pump for the finally-thawed-out fish pond. It has been an oblong collie ice skating rink for weeks.

Having rested idle, and probably partially frozen, the pump gurgled and burped like a baby dragon teething a VW. But after a few moments, water began spilling over the waterfall. Along with it came a mountain of leaves. I grabbed the net-on-a-pole-thing to intercept the leaves before they clogged the skimmer. Cleaning out a fouled skimmer net is a rotten job. I reached out and slid the net under the first ranks of the leaf front, now approaching the skimmer with increased speed and a certain determination.

I lifted. “Tick!” Out came half a pole. The other half remained with the leaves. Traitor. Its aluminum shaft, possibly weakened by the bitter cold had snapped cleanly.

Where'd we all go?  Maybe the spaceship finally came to take us home.A small audience of herding animals had gathered to watch from the porch above me. First appeared the collie who only eats when it’s absolutely necessary, preferring toast and jam to kibble. Then came the sheepdog who will eat almost anything handed to her, but who will sit in front of her half-full supper dish like a petulant child glooming over cold green beans long after the family has left the table to watch A-Team. And last, licking her lips with relish, came the collie who always waits patiently for the opportunity to helpfully clean up after brother and sister; and sometimes not really waiting for after to arrive.

They watched me and I watched half a skimming net float across the pond. It was at this moment that I realized something, a difference that had only registered subconsciously. The water was dark. Flat. Lifeless.

Normally the pond is a hub of constant activity and animation, a gathering and scattering of orange and gold flashbulbs lighting it up. But there weren’t any now. All our fish were gone.

In a strictly Schrödinger’s Cat sort of way, they weren’t actually dead. Just gone. Missing. Absconded. Or more likely purloined, snatched by that damn blue heron pterodactyl-monster that’s been spotted cavorting around Snug Harbor in weeks past.

Unless they’re masters at underwater camouflage, safely hidden until one day when I’ll see one of them blink and emerge from a wall of muck with a knife in his teeth like Rambo, then the truth of what happened here is just too sad to contemplate.

I’m not restocking the sushi bar until I figure out how to protect its new residents. You hear that an event, horrific enough, gets imprinted on its surroundings. Well, the Fish family that jumps on this prime location at “way below market” without doing a little fact checking is going to be very surprised when rocks start stacking themselves and the minnows hear voices coming out of static between channels on the shellevision.

I’m contemplating a new, permanent scarecrow to protect the fish pond. No idea what will scare a blue heron. My only other idea is to build lots of underwater caves out of rocks so that the kids will at least have someplace to hide if Rodan shows up and isn’t intimidated by the
(F)ixed (I)nterdiction (S)ystem (H)ardware —
(H)eron (E)xpulsion (D)evice