Thoughts of Spring and Green (Chest-waders)

Posted on April 15, 2012


A welcome sign that Spring has arrived.

The birdies are twittering about again, things are sprouting through the earth, and blossoms are finally venturing forth. Aaah, Springtime!

I have heard that in Springtime a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, but I’m pretty sure that Spring is simply a convenient excuse for some guys to chase a skirt. But what does an older fella think of in Spring? While those thoughts of “amore” may well be on the menu for some, my sweet Hubby’s thoughts lean towards the nasty job of donning his chest-waders and cleaning up our backyard pond for the season ahead.  It’s an ugly, smelly chore that unfortunately needs to be addressed as soon as it’s possible weather-wise. I count myself as having the better part of the operation since my short stature is a liability in a pond where it’s nearly four feet deep in one area. (All it would take for me to have that rubberized apparel fill with murky pond scum is a slight bend forwards – yuck! It’s one time that shortness actually works in my favour to get out of a job.)

At least Hubby's still smiling.

The operation begins with pumping and draining about a third of the pond water in order to navigate amid the handful of sunken baskets of pond plants and water lilies that sit near the bottom for their winter rest period. Although most of our large, bright orange goldfish are easy to spot, there are a few blackish ones, so we still have to keep a check that no poor unfortunates get sucked up during the process. (You can almost imagine their shouts in the chaos as the waters slowly become shallower … stay away from the hose! … swim in the opposite direction! … watch out for the giant green boots!)

And as the water level lowers, the freshness in the crisp air distinctly changes to aromas of swampiness, bogs, and decomposing “stuff” (fish don’t float forever you know). Residual algae is our nemesis – always. One by one, Hubby does a “search and retrieval” of the plant baskets from the bottom of the basin, passing them to me at the perimeter. It’s my job to determine the health of each container, do a quick prune and tidy and return it back into Hubby’s exposed, wet and shivering arms for placement on the terraced ledges. Rocks that have fallen to the abyss at the bottom of the pond also need to be retrieved. (Yes, I am well aware that the water temperature is quite chilly. Hubby already knows some of the hospital Emergency staff from past incidents, so I am not willing to risk hypothermia as well.  It’s my responsibility to do the land portion of the clean-up quick-quick and get him out ASAP.)

At this point, any decent fish-monger would pinch his noise in disgust with the stink on our gloves – soooo baaaad. We have to remind ourselves that it will all look so amazing when the waterlilies are making their floral display, the reeds are gently swaying in the summer breeze, and the goldfish are happily playing hide-and-seek amongst the leaves. Many friends have expressed how calming the sound of the cascading water is, how serene it is to gaze into the water and see the darting colours of our resident fishies, and what a restful place we have to put your feet up.

Taking a break from the muck.

Unfortunately, it takes some real labour to maintain that restful retreat. And those same friends are never around to help with the algae or the muck. But I do get to see ol’ Hubby in those green chest-waders – and that’s one of the perks. He looks like an over-grown little boy in his own fishing hole, Tom Sawyer style, with a curious smile, minus the fishing pole, and having way, way, bigger feet. Getting someone else to tackle that pond clean-up just wouldn’t be the same.

We can’t imagine our backyard now without the waterfall and ponds and all the creatures that come to enjoy it with us (some winged, some four-legged, and others bearing wine bottles in hand). It certainly isn’t maintenance-free, but it’s rewarding and therapeutic. We could just do without the swamp stench each Spring clean-up.