My accidental pond has been in existence for over a month now and nothing much seems to have happened. If I tip the container up slightly, all the nailhead guys swim to the surface. They seem to spend all their time going up and down as if they are trapped in an elevator. The red worms have disappeared to the bottom and some other creatures have arrived which look like swimming maggot larvae. The water doesn’t smell, so the weed is doing its job.
Mother mozzies have been making use of the ready made crèche and it is interesting to watch them splay their legs so that they can use the surface tension to stay upright and out of the water. If they break this invisible shield then they find it almost impossible to get out alive, yet still they take the risk. Such is a mother’s sacrifice. Watching this it occurred to me that if any of these pond creatures morphed into winged insects they would have to climb out, through the surface tension, to freedom. They obviously needed a bit of help. So the search began for some tall pond weed. I started with the friendly pet shop, but the guy there told me I was wasting my time and that I should tip all the little blighters out before they infested the neighbourhood as blood sucking midges. He clearly didn’t understand. Not only that, he didn’t have any tall pond weed. So I tried the garden centres, the farm shop and even an aqua centre. Nothing. But I did discover that some people in our neighbourhood appear to be installing rather large, eight jet hot tubs into their back gardens. I ended up back at the pet shop, where I bought some tall, plastic pond weed and kept quiet about my intentions.
When I placed it in the pond all the nailhead crowd got very excited and started to gyrate between the artificial leaves. I imagined nymph-like dragonflies crawling from the water and using this weed as a resting place while their gossamer wings dried in the sunlight. If that ever did happen it wasn’t while I was watching. Every morning before I fed the birds I stopped by to check out progress in the pond. There was plenty of movement in the water and the nailheaders always came to the surface to say hello. Sometimes there would be a visitor such as a slug or a snail in the pond. Good to see the new guys were being made welcome, even if it was just to steal their weed. I tried looking the pond creatures up on the computer, so I could see what they would turn into, but I found pages of virtually identical black dots and wriggly things; it was like trying to read Morse code. I did find out that the red worms were probably ‘blood worms’ which are specially adapted to live in acrid water evidently.
So it went on through September and into October. With winter approaching I wondered if I was going to be stuck with this pond forever. Then one day in October I noticed that it had all gone quiet. I tipped up the container, but no movement. I put my finger in and stirred it up; nothing. Where had they gone? There was only one way to find out. One warm afternoon I prepared the old bird bath as the new, alternative pond. I put in some fresh water, a large stone and some weed from the accidental pond. Then I gradually took out the rest of the weed and peered down into the murky depths. At the bottom was a sludgy brown mush, but in the water itself not a thing stirred. I decided to empty the water gradually into the shallow birdbath and examine it for evidence of life. If any of the creatures decided to ‘play dead’ at this point it was a strategy which would cost them dear, as once I ascertained that nothing was moving I threw the water away. I repeated this process until I found a few red worm survivors and I fished them out with the old sieve. As I got nearer the bottom more wriggly worms were found. A whole clutch of them were hiding in the folds of the foam used to bind the pond weed. When I opened this out they all blinked up at me, crouched inside the protective fabric. But protected from what?
Now you can take whatever view you would like to on the disappearance of the pond life, for I don’t know the truth. Perhaps they all turned into new winged creatures and set off to find their fortune in distant lands, or perhaps they all just ate each other, till only the ones who escaped detection survived. If my accidental pond is a microcosm of the world, then possibly this is the inevitable outcome for us all. In order to live we much each destroy, until we in turn are destroyed and consumed. Now that’s a bit heavy, so let’s go with the idea that they all graduated from the blue plastic box and went out into the world to replicate and bite people. I love a happy ending.
The old pond now lies empty and all the remaining creatures reside in the original bird bath which I have placed up on the table for ease of observation and to catch the sun. I know that there are a number of worms lying camouflaged in the red-brown sludge at the bottom, but I was also surprised to see a few nailhead guys chasing round in the water. I am hoping that the stone will attract algae and that the handful of survivors will be able to feed off this, rather than their colleagues. I realise that these tiny dots of life are very hard to see with the naked eye and some must have been sacrificed in the Great Pond Rescue, but hey ho. That’s why nature creates in abundance. She knows there will always be wastage and no doubt a snail or slug found a tasty morsel to supplement their diet that evening. So, Hakuna Matata as Elton John would say, that’s the circle of life.
While I am in a philosophical vein, let me leave you with this advice.
It takes more than water to maketh a pond.