Saturday, November 26, 2005

Working Like A Dog

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(Let's see, "working like a dog"...that would involve eating,sleeping all day, eating some more, and then a good night's sleep)

That's my buddy Flounder on the dock with a pile of pond slime. The pile is the result of a few minutes spent tossing the grappling hook in the foreground. The hook is tossed, allowed to sink, and then retrieved with it's catch of pond weed. I actually enjoy this.

Like sanding wood, it's the kind of labor that allows you to think while still accomplishing something. I compose posts, solve minor and major world problems, and pose new questions constantly while tugging on the weed laden rope.

Removing the weed is not a cosmetic thing. This winter those weeds will die back and add to the mucky layer atop the sandy pond bottom. As that layer decays, it robs oxygen from the water...oxygen my fish depend on. All I am trying to do is reduce that layer a bit. I certainly don't want to remove all the plants as they are also pumping out those excess oxygen atoms left over from their photosynthetic efforts.

This is a crummy job on a hot day as the bugs will devour you. But this time of year it's different. The air is crisp, there are no bugs, and the willows around the pond are alive with tiny LGB's that twitter and flit all around. There's a kingfisher who loves my dropping pond level as it concentrates his prey. He was swooping and chattering the whole time I was pulling this pile.

Then there's all the neat creatures that come up with the weeds. I lose a lot of weed pulling time finding and tossing back the little fish, snails, and grass shrimp that come up tangled in the weed.

That is my Dad's fault. As a kid when we would go castnetting for shrimp to use as fishing bait, he taught us that anything that came up in our nets was either used or tossed back alive. It would infuriate him to come across piles of dead bycatch that other castnetters had left to die on the muddy bank. We never did this. ALL of our bycatch went back in the water. Sometimes this was a chore as the net might hit a school of tiny mullet and there would be hundreds to toss back. It didn't matter, they all went back in.

The message was clear even to a 9 year old, living things are not to be wasted.

So, when the weed comes up teeming with minnows and inch long baby bluegills, I crouch down and begin picking and tossing.

A wise man once taught me that was the right thing to do.


pablo said...

Nice post, FC.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

How lucky for you to have had such a wise teacher. A good lesson for all of us.

roger said...

as our pond is much smaller, and bugs aren't so bad here in the summer, i wade in and gather up the excess algae with my hands. i am careful to return the little fish to the pond, but i'm not always so careful with the snails. there are gazillions of them.

it is a nice meditative chore.

Floridacracker said...

I confess to snail fatigue at times also...

Thanks, I hope Oregon is treating you

He is a big softie when it comes to life in any form. He'll chase a butterfly around his greenhouse so he can let it go before it wastes that short butterfly lifespan. I am a lucky son.

Weary Hag said...

I so loved this particular post. First, Flounder is a beautiful animal and he sure photographs well. But mostly, I enjoyed reading about how you toss back the live buggers rather than leaving them clumped up to die in the mass of weed. If you've ever heard of or had a chance to read a story called "The Starfish" (I know, a misnomer), you'll know why I love this post. That is my absolute favorite story in the world - EVER.
Good job FC!

Floridacracker said...

Thanks, it really started out as a "life on the farm chore story" and then memory kicked in...

I WILL read The Starfish. Thanks again.