Tales from the Downfall Trail, Part Four

I regard this blog as something that gives my readers a window on my world, and this week it’s not a happy, cheery window. We’re home. At least we’re at our house, sleeping in our own bed and drinking our own coffee, but we’re still living out of suitcases. And since this is part four of the Downfall trail tales, that means we’ve been on the road for nearly a month now. Book tours sound a lot more fun when you only contemplating them. Doing them? That’s another story.

Just last week I wrote a cheery piece about coming home and going down to the fish ponds where our fish were clearly thriving. That was prior to last Saturday. We came home from that day’s events only to discover that the circulating pump was off and the fish in that pond were either already dead or dying. We immediately instituted a catch and release animal rescue operation, snagging still living fish in a net and running them around to the front pond and then dragging out the sad remains of everyone else. One big gray fish, one we called the Gray Ghost, could still swim well enough that he got away, and we couldn’t find him. Sadly we did find him the next day, as a dead floater in the water.

Let’s be clear. These are fish. Goldfish. Some of them—the big seven-inch gold and red and orange guys—came from our initial batch of ten-cent fish from PetsMart. That was six years ago. By the following year, the price had gone up to fifteen cents. They had been with us for a very long time, in fish years. (Are fish years longer or shorter than dog years?) The ones we were able to catch and cart to the front pond swam away, some of them very feebly, but since I’ve seen no additional victims, I have to assume that they mostly made it.

Yesterday the pond guy came and explained what happened. A rock had gotten stuck in the intake pipe which had burned out the circulating pump, spilling oil into our pond. Motor oil and fish do not blend. If you don’t believe me, Google the Exxon Valdez. The back pond is currently inoperative. Before we can restock it, we’ll need to drain it and scrub it. That’s something that will have to happen much later. In the meantime, I’m worried about having something go wrong with the pump in the front pond!

In terms of relative importance, the loss of a few fish probably doesn’t count for much, but those little creatures were entrusted to us by God and PetsMart, and I can’t help but feel that we let them down.

So you’ll have to color my blog blue this week.

11 thoughts on “Tales from the Downfall Trail, Part Four

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your fish, but appreciate your telling us so we can know what might happen with water pumps. I’d never think of a rock clogging an in-take pipe. Will there be a screen on the new pipe?

    Your life reminds me of something my mother used to say. “Life is just one darn thing after another.” The original word wasn’t “darn”, but she didn’t use vulgar language.

  2. I am so sorry to read this and I understand your anguish. We keep goldfish in our pond too, but we also stock a few guppies in summer to keep the mosquitoes from breeding there. They have to come in as soon as the night temps get down to 35 or so. I caught them all last week and brought them in the house. All but one that I missed. I feel so guilty. He has not been seen since the first cold night. Hope your front pond holds up while the other is fixed.

  3. Commiserating, not just about the loss of fish but also about the incredible amount of restoration that’s upcoming. Empty, scrub, scrub again, detoxify, one more rinse, refill, recondition, replant, and restock. Ugh.

  4. Dang! Never know what unpleasant surprises will crop up while you are away. Our last such adventure involved a leaking fridge and having to remove the kitchen floor and part of the dining room floor and wall. So sorry you lost some of your fish friends with this episode and hope the remaining survive okay. The repair/refurbish can wait until spring I expect. Wonder if your insurance will assist with any of the cost? Meanwhile hope your travels and the tour are safe and smooth from here on.

  5. Judy, my daughter brought home a pair of “I won them at the fair” gold fish that lived for 12 years in a small fish bowl on her dresser. I don’t know how to translate fish years to human years, but she translated from a young teen to a married woman during that time span.

  6. Every being is important. Plus, I’m sure the fish were part of your extended family. So sorry that you have to live thru this (as well as all the ups and downs of travel). Make sure you take some “me” time.

  7. As a very young child, my mother tool me out of town to see my grandparents. Dad was left home to care for the fishbowl, because he had to work. He got up late and was trying to change the water in the fishbowl and shave. He mistakenly started to shave with cold water and put hot in the fishbowl.

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