Meandering Thoughts

Meandering Thoughts

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Frog Pond

I have a wonderful little pond that I call the Frog Pond.  It does have a couple frogs that sit on rocks to warm their green bodies in the summer.  It takes a long time for them to get used to seeing you watching them.  They will quickly jump into the pond and swim out of sight.  If I stay long enough, I'll see their nose and eyes surface behind a leaf of the water iris.  Is he checking to see if it is safe to come out and sit again on a flat warm stone, I wonder.

For the most part this Frog Pond is the home of my goldfish.  I remember back when I decided to dig this pond.  It was a wonderful day in May, back in the very early 90's.  I know it was in May because I allowed my daughters a day home from school, kind of a "mental health" day, disguised a "help your Mom" day!  Trisha and Emily were delighted, the sun was warm and helping Mom for awhile would be worth it for a nap in the sun later.

We started digging the pond, just outside the back door, in the middle of a flower bed, and under a grand old maple tree.  You may have already thought, "Is she crazy, doesn't she know if there is a tree above your head there are roots under your feet!"   The answer to your question is, yes, she is crazy.  It never occurred to me about the roots of the tree, digging in an old, well established flower bed is bad enough!  An hour into the digging we had to get the pick and axe.   The girls were finished with helping me when I started swinging the axe!  So I was on my own on this beautiful day in May.

Richard came home that afternoon and looked at my mess and ask me if I was having fun yet.  There was a pile of flowers, a pile of rocks, a pile of tree root chunks and a pile of dirt and I still wasn't done.  The day had gone from a nice spring day to a hot afternoon.  Dirt and perspiration clung to me, I was wondering why I'd started this project and knew it was too late to turn back.

The idea of this pond came from no where in particular, it was several years later that garden ponds became the rage.  I was a little ahead of my time and therefore had rather primitive ideas about building this pond.  I had managed a kidney shaped hole in the ground that was maybe six feet long and four feet wide and only two feet deep in the middle.  Inside the hole were stubs of tree roots sticking out everywhere.  I knew this might be a problem when I lay down the plastic, yes good old black plastic, the kind you can purchase anywhere.   I decided if I made it of several layers it would be as strong as those pond liners.  Something still had to be done about the tree root stubs, so I decided to gather all the old blue jeans in the house, the ones outgrown or waiting for patches, and use them on the ground to cover the tree stubs, before laying the plastic.  Genius is at work here!  Putting down the plastic was easy compared to digging the hole.  I managed to use the nice big foundation rocks and flag stones to hold the plastic in place.   Things were finally coming together and I started adding water.  I had a pond!

Of course you can't just have a pond with water, now you need fish, plants and a filtering system.  Eventually these things all came together.  I purchased a couple water lilies, they never bloomed, I think it had something to do with the shade on the pond from the tree.  That shade helped in other ways, my pond wasn't overrun with algae, although that is a problem in spring before the leaves come out on the tree.  My fish were goldfish, purchased from a discount store.  Some of the goldfish came from the county fairs ring toss game, they were won by my children and friends children and brought to the pond in a little plastic bags with water and a fish.  Some lived and some died.  The ones that lived grew and grew.  We even had baby goldfish born in the pond a couple years.

I replaced the first black plastic when it started leaking to a certain level.  I didn't learn my lesson, I replaced it with more plastic and this method worked for 18 years just fine.  Last year I decided to replace the black plastic with a real pond liner that I got on sale at the end of the last season.   Working on the frog pond last year was harder than it was the first time, I am nearly 20 years older and my endurance has diminished.  I had planned to get my girls to help again, but Trisha was pregnant and Emily was still teaching, she couldn't take a "mental health" day just to help her Mom this time. 

The frog pond never looked prettier than it did last summer.  Fall came and the leaves fell.  This is probably another reason why you don't want to build a pond under a tree.  I usually catch my big goldfish and move them to the horse water tank for the winter.  This serves two purposes, the fish don't freeze in my shallow pond and the horse tank doesn't freeze because of the water heater keeping it thawed.

Winter freezing started early this year and I didn't get the fish moved.  When I tried to catch the fish one cold freezing day, my little fish net broke.  The water started freezing and I knew I'd have to put a heater in the frog pond if I didn't want to loose the goldfish.  Richard could just see the electric meters spinning.  And spin they did, after a month of heating the frog pond it was time to unplug the heater and catch the fish.  I love catching the fish, they have gotten so big, it takes two hands to take them out of the fish net and put them lovingly in a bucket of water.  I always giggle watching my horses get a drink when I first add the fish to their water tank, they are somewhat startled to suddenly having moving "things" in their water.  So all things are as they should be this January day, it will soon be spring and I'll be catching those big ole fish and moving them back to the Frog Pond.

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