Damn Pond

The spring of 1995 my husband installed a new computer server in his business and named it “Damn Pond.” Odd name for a server, you say, but it was right on target for the mantra he was uttering all day long as he complained to employees.

He didn’t want the pond, but I was hell-bent on digging a hole in the backyard at the edge of the patio and filling it with water and fish. I saw the end. He saw the means. I’ll do all the work, I told him. You won’t have to do a thing. So I hooked a son who’d gotten himself into debt with his first credit card to do the hard manual labor in exchange for payment on the account. Son dug the hole and hauled all the dirt to the back corner of the yard and built a tiered flowerbed. Husband, electrical engineer, then just couldn’t stand it and had to get involved to make sure we got the liner in correctly, got it all level, and got the pump installed properly, seeing that no money was wasted in the process. Then came water irises and lily pads and eleven goldfish and koi. It was beautiful, and the sound of the trickling waterfall over huge stones, engineered by Husband, was soothing and mesmerizing.

Together Husband and I kept the entire water environment alive and balanced; we named the fish; we watched the pond level out to what it could maintain. Seven. Baby fish were born, older ones died. We kept seven until 2006, when some type of ick killed them all.

Every spring I re-learned why Husband didn’t want a pond. It is work! Every spring we drained it, we scooped decayed matter from the bottom, scrubbed the sides, ridded it of the horrors of algae, and cussed together through the process.

Yesterday, I cleaned it for the first time since Husband died. I hadn’t planned on it, but the pump quit last week. I knew it was coming, it was consumed by algae. The pond was nothing but still, dark water, manufacturing mosquitoes and producing a crop of thick green scum. A son and his girlfriend were home for a visit, and I enlisted some help getting the pump out of the water and getting it cleaned. It was a smelly, nasty mess of thick black sludge, but he got it fresh again. Leah worried about putting a clean pump back into the debris-filled water, so she began digging out the old wet leaves and twigs that had accumulated over a few seasons.  I saw an opportunity and jumped in, too.

I didn’t know how to reverse the pump and drain the water, so I dipped — bucket after bucket. The pond was half full of matter and filthy with black thick sludge. It was back-breaking work. Literally.

“You’ll never get it all out,” Son encouraged.

I was determined to do so at that point. “Watch me.”

Toward the bottom, I found a fish. Leah put it in a bucket of fresh water and we wondered how it got in the pond.

It all ended with me sitting in the pond on the first level, scooping and wiping the sides of an empty hole…and them sitting on the couch watching TV until it was time to refill with fresh, clean water. Somehow I knew Husband was sitting somewhere with his arms crossed, laughing, muttering “damn pond.”

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2 Comments on “Damn Pond”

  1. drtombibey says:

    You know ma’am, my wife wanted one of those ponds, and I was against it for all the reasons you explained. But I want her to be happy, so we have one.

    And I have to admit the sound of the water and the spring peepers and bullfrogs add much to surburban life. Still though, it is a lot of work and messy. Our Lab likes to jump in, then she hops out and shakes water all over us.

    If my wife was gone though, I am confident I’d go out to the pond in the evenings and cry every night for a long time.

    I’m glad you wrote about your pond. It puts ours in perspective.

    Dr. B

  2. Jenne says:

    We had a pond. I never asked for one because I was afraid I would have to take care of it..like I had to do with my son’s dog and the fish in the aquarium. It just didn’t seem practical.

    Once we had it–I loved it. My husband and son really did maintain it! I was surprised. Every Spring they worked together, replacing liners and adding tiers. It was a special bonding time when they could take out the pumps, clean the filters and add new features.

    The pond is a trickling memory that became a flower bed last.

    Tomorrow my son will be 21. And I will probably sit by the flower bed and hear the water trickling. And I will try to get one more hug from the boy turned man while hearing his first cry in the background of sounds trickling over smooth stones, rough rocks and pooling into another tier in an amazing journey.


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