October is with out a doubt, my bestest of months as my Daughter says. The weather can be spectacular, fall colors, by the end of the month football, hockey and baseball are on TV, as are horror movies and creature features, hunting, it’s a cornucopia of stuff.
Not that I actually allow myself opportunity to get out and do any of it. Take that back I’ll do all of it if it doesn’t involve me leaving house.
For all my work last weekend cleaning up leaves, I find myself today, looking out on the backyard and thinking to myself; “today it’s worse.” I kinda thought I was done with the leaves last weekend given the state of the trees. But no such luck, as I sit here looking out at the yard I can’t help but wonder if the trees have figured out how to manufacture leaves on the ground without having to bother with sprouting them up on the branches.
It’s kinda curious of you ask me. One of those questions like “where do frogs go in the winter?” I ask this because among the many chores I knocked off this weekend- cleaned out the pond. As I was doing so I disturbed a half dozen for so frogs who were sleeping or hanging out doing what ever it is that frogs do in the winter. I hear they sit on the bottom of ponds like mine and partially freeze themselves to death, breathing through their skin. that’s the part I’m most interested in, how do they breathe?
This was a long luxurious weekend here at the Casa. I took Thursday and Friday off, Mrs S and the Miss S were in California visiting Grandma, and it was quiet as can be around the house. The hermit life really really appeals to me. I had some plans to get out and about, was supposed to go hunting one day, was going to go to the lake for a night, and did none of those, once again I talked myself out of leaving the house and found myself hanging around which although I’m loathe to admit it, is one of my favorite activities.
I also, and this isn’t a great excuse but I’m going with it, got a flu shot Thursday night. By friday afternoon I had a low grade temp and was feeling crummy, this lasted until Saturday afternoon…
I did manage to get the Lodge Dues notices out, since it rained for two of the days, it was a perfect way to spend some time. It’s one of those jobs, which despite my best efforts at efficiency, still takes about 8 hours to get done any way I slice it. But it’s also one of those things which doesn’t require rapt attention, there’s a lot of envelope stuffing and such, and any job that doesn’t require apt attention, when preformed by a person like me, riddled with ADD, and given the opportunity for distraction will some take 3X longer than it should, and it did.
And my distraction of choice in October? Horror movies. Classic horror from the 30′s to the 70′s. Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Lon Cheney and Boris Karloff. Awesome.
I grew up with the late Bob Wilkens back the Stockton Days. Bob hosted Creature Features every Saturday night, which back in the days all television came over the air, was the only source of great campy horror movies. Every week I’d watch the Mummy, or Zombie Island or some movie about creepy dead girls and psychotic professors.
These days you have to go to TMC for that kind of quality entertainment. And I did.
And as long as were talking about horror shows, cleaning out the pond in the fall is always a something of a horror show.
The pond I’m speaking off is a little black plastic deal that Mrs S installed two years ago in her campaign to reduce the amount of grass we have in the backyard. I was and am in full support her efforts. The backyard is really too shady for grass and it’s difficult at best to keep it green and you’d have to water and fertilize and at the end of the day, I’m at the lake that weekend anyway.
Sometime in the fall I like to drain the pond as best I can, clean out the debris that accumulates in the bottom of it during the year and call it “done” for the winter. I put some cheapo fish in the pond every spring to eat the mosquito larvae because I don’t want to be responsible for a localized outbreak of Lacrosse encephalitis. A neighbor contracted it a few years ago and will never fully recover. No good.
In order to support the fish I installed a small pond filter, works great except it needs to be cleaned about once a week. The indication that it’s time to do so, the fountain slows down to a trickle, not unlike some other things around here, and the pond starts clouding up. The other thing that makes it cloud up is the next door neighbors lab for whom the pond is the perfect size tub for a soak, and she takes every opportunity to jump in.
Last year by about September 1st I was tired of cleaning out the filter and in anticipation of the cold weather just turned the thing off. In October when I went to clean it out the water, well lets just say that two months of rotting leaves affects water quality. And BTW, fish as well as there were no fish in it. They’d either been eaten by weasels or had died and decomposed to their elemental form. In their place was a colony of something I couldn’t identify but which I believed were the larval form of some kind of alien. Later I identified them as a “rat tailed maggots”. Needless to say, disgusting. Check ‘um out here, apparently they like disgusting stagnant water.
This year, not wanting a repeat of the maggot invasion I kept the filter going. Most of the fish survived, I had put a couple koi in the pond this year, and a few goldfish. The koi were eaten by crows, who apparently have specialized taste in fish, they somehow avoided the .07 cent feeder goldfish and went right for the $20.00 koi.
Now getting gold fish out of pond is never easy. My cousin the biologist in Israel who works with fish had suggested conditioning them by tapping the side of the pond every time I feed them. They’ve been experimenting with this in Israel with tilapia. In the Kenneret (Galilee for the Christians) they stock tilapia, where they’re also known as St. Peters fish. This is the fish dear friends that Jesus would have fished for before he started fishing for men. The Israeli’s were work on conditioning the fish in their growing ponds with a high pitched signal before every feeding. The fish in the pond learned to come to the dock when ever they heard the signal.
Mrs. S has noticed the same thing with the refrigerator door, when ever she opens it, I seem to appear out of nowhere.
I don’t know if this worked in Israel, it didn’t work so well in Apple Valley. Probably because I only feed the fish in the pond a couple times all summer long. The pond is an eco system and my theory is, if I feed them, they aren’t going eat what I want them to eat, dead leaves and mosquitos.
So my bright idea for catching them, and this comes from 40 years of experience with fish, is to do it at night with a flashlight. Two reasons; 1) visibility into the water with a good flashlight is excellent. I can see everything in the pond, which I can’t in the daytime. Too deep in the deep end. 2) Fish sleep by sitting in a suspended state, which would make them far easier to catch.
The flashlight I selected was Mrs S’s extraordinary Fenix PD30. Essentially a $60 minimag, this thing throws out a whopping 257 lumens. Enough to blind a person, two of these would be sufficient for a high school football game. Friday night, armed with a bucket in one hand, a net and the uberlight in my teeth and glass of bourbon in the other hand, I set out to do the deed. The dark water looked inky in moonless night. I set down everything except the bourbon and hit the power button on the light. Holy shit, if you’ve not seen one of these in action, it’s incredible. The entire yard was lit with a harsh white light. Shining it into the pond I could see my quarry sleeping on the bottom, about 5 of them. And something else.. something was down there in the deepest part of the pond staring back up at me, I couldn’t quite make it out. As I leaned down and stared into the water my cognition kicked in and with a bit of a start I realized I was starting into the face of cold lifeless squirrel who had somehow drowned in the bottom my micro lake and was now, as they say, tits up, and staring back at me.
Fell right on my ass. And didn’t spill the bourbon. Good news is I quickly collected myself and went to the garage. “gonna need a bigger net”.
And so, good news is the fish are safe and sound in my fish tank. $150 in aquatic life support systems for five .10 cent feeder fish. I have a big heart.