I used to have a big, deep pond in the back garden. It was there when we bought the house, and over the years it evolved – fountains and waterfalls were added, various aquatic plants were introduced, the fish (which had come with the deeds to the house, it seemed) bred and multiplied and died and got taken by passing herons. Blanket weed grew, was raked out, thrown into the compost. It was an ecosystem of sorts, I suppose, but not a properly sustainable one. Ecosystems, especially micro- ones, don’t thrive on neglect.
One day, about ten years ago, I looked at the nasty green swamp and said: “Let’s fill it in.” Viv agreed, but was compassionately concerned for the fish. As luck would have it, providence was on our side – a friend had just moved into a new home which had a pond, and was keen to stock it with goldfish. And so it came to pass. Our fish got fished out, well most of them, and somehow found their way to Caro’s pond, where they thrived. (Until recently, when she decided to fill hers in; but that’s another story.)
At the time, I remember feeling some concern for the frogs. Some years earlier, we’d been sitting out late on a warm humid evening enjoying the tail end of a bottle or two, when suddenly about twenty-five frogs leapt out of the pond and scuttled off into the undergrowth. Half a minute later lightning flashed, thunder clapped, and a deluge descended. “Those frogs know something,” I thought (and said, to anyone who’d listen, for months afterwards).
So when the Great Pond Fill-in started, I worried a bit about how they’d fare without their swamp. Viv reassured me: “They’ve been around longer than us. They’ll survive.”
This evening, about an hour ago, I wandered out into the garden for a ciggie, and heard an unmistakeable sound from the undergrowth. I came in, started to write this, went out again just now (I wanted to be sure), and heard it again.
Hope spring’s eternal.