“It’s a good day for life,” said my son, as I helped him across the garden to look at the emerging buds on his acer. He was right… the sun, for once, had shone all morning, making working in the garden far more pleasant than doing the necessary in the cold and rain. The bulbs we had planted in the autumn are flourishing, the roses are already in bud and everything is looking green.
Even the ‘dead leaf’ my son, with his damaged eyesight, had seen on the doorstep had escaped being squashed by a size ten foot by hopping away in the nick of time.
Small creatures are waking after their winter sleep… we found a ladybird on the tree, iridescent beetles in the flower beds and clouds of midges are hovering over the pond… but not as assiduously as we have been the past few days. Ever since the heron attack and the Lazarus fish, we have been counting heads to see who was missing. While all the mature fish seemed to be accounted for and Lazarus (my son has a more irreverent name for him) seems none the worse for his experience, some of the babies were still nowhere to be seen.
We found Garfield, a sparkling orange and black baby koi, hidden in the leaf litter. To be fair, we hadn’t been too worried about not seeing Garfield… He is much smaller than the others that came home with him and when he went missing for months, we were sure we had lost him. Then he made a quick dash out into open water and we were both astonished and jubilant to find he was still with us. But Willow and Cinnamon, two of Nick’s favourite babies and amongst the most adventurous, were nowhere to be seen.
Willow is a delicate and opalescent butterfly koi, with pale gold markings. Amongst the bravest of the little fish, she was one of the first to join the big fish out in open water… and the first to venture out of hiding after the heron’s visit too. I caught sight of her when I was putting up the temporary heron barrier and I was so pleased she had not become the bird’s hors d’oeuvre.
Cinnamon, however, was Nick’s favourite. A nondescript brown when we brought him home, his dun scales standing out by their very plainness amongst the gorgeous colours of his tankmates at the store. Underwater, you could barely see him. He spent all winter being curious, friendly and growing into a beautifully marked fish. He seldom took shelter in the weeds and was always near the surface… perfect for a heron to snatch. After a couple of days with no sign of him, we had begun to resign ourselves to the fact that Cinnamon was no more.
He must have been on my mind, though, for last night, amongst other weirdnesses, I dreamed of him swimming out of the weeds and taking us by surprise. I told Nick about it when I arrived there this morning, over coffee. He still cherished hopes… though I had little hope left for the young koi after spending the morning replacing the temporary heron fence with something less obtrusive and once again, seeing no sign of Cinnamon. We stood at the end of the pond, considering the barrier I had made… and I caught sight of something. I didn’t dare say anything in case I was wrong… but a few minutes later, Cinnamon swam out of the weeds! Nick was over the moon and, I admit, so was I. The heron must have left hungry after all. Sometimes hoping against all odds pays off.