So, an exciting afternoon spent in piscine maneuvers.
That is to say, we started the process of dismantling the old fishpond and installing a new one in the front yard. The old one was always a shambolic thing. Originally it was to have been cinderblock (or breezeblock, as people say over here) with a fieldstone cladding on the outside, and a vinyl liner inside (or whatever polysyllabic polymer they use for liners these days). So far, the idea was all right. But we (all right, I) made the mistake of planning it too tall, nearly a meter high. This meant that to see the fish you had to lean waaaaaaay over and practically join them in water which hovered around 10 degrees C (except in winter… I really have to find that picture of How The Fountain Froze).
Never mind. Yesterday, the wonderful Kieran from the local hyperhardware store had us delivered a “holding pond”, as a loaner, to put the fish in while we dug out the hole where the Real Pond Shell (presently leaning against the back of the house) is going to go. (This kind of thing is standard neighborly behavior in these parts. The Hyperhardware may be located in the depths of the Irish countryside, but it isn’t some little cozy place with sawdust on the floors: it’s an umpty-thousand-square-foot establishment which incidentally, this time of year, has a fifty-foot-high mountain of barley piled up outside it, waiting for the Guinness people to come and take it away and make it into malt. I said to Kieran on the phone on Friday, having previously broached the subject of a loaner pond with him at the pub: “Do you need me to pay for this thing, and then you give me a refund when we’re done moving the fish?” A second’s silence. “No,” he said, very calmly, as if humoring the insane. I thanked him and hung up before I should say anything else dumb.)
So yesterday, as I said, the loaner pond appeared: a good size, about a thousand liters, plenty of room to keep the fish from being stressed. We chocked it up with rocks (the shelved bits of it would have gotten rather saggy when it was filled with water, otherwise) and started siphoning the present pond’s water into it. This took about an hour.
When only six inches or so of water were left, Peter and I started netting out the fish — three shubunkin, three golden orfe. One by one they made the crossing with only brief distress and without further difficulty. This still left us with the little Mystery Fish to get out of there. (I’ve got to try to take a picture of him and put it up here with a “Do you know this fish?” caption. He appears to be a bottom-feeder of some kind; he’s small, of a grey-and-white gravelly color, and hard to see. Peter finally got him out of there during the evening, by flashlight, when he was too confused to get away.)
The afternoon’s entertainment was completed by Beemer falling into the half-drained pond. Once the water had gone down beyond the “shelf” I’d built in to hold the water plants, she couldn’t resist getting down on that to dab at the water and at some of the leaves which had fallen into it from the nearby hedging. In a careless moment, she slipped on some pondweed. She fell in. She instantly rocketed back up onto the shelf, down off the old pond, over to the house, and sat there dripping and shaking water off her and being thoroughly astonished and completely pissed off. Peter nearly herniated himself laughing. The look Beemer gave him simply cannot be described….though I can make a stab at paraphrasing it: “I’m wet! I’ve never been this wet! And you were there! And you’re laughing at me, you SOB! — So this is all your fault somehow!”
…She’s dry now. Everyone’s had their dinner. Everyone’s asleep. But I don’t think she’s going to forgive Peter for a while.