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Pond Life

I’m expecting to be done by the Health and Safety brigade any moment. I’ve created a risk in the back garden, but it had to be done.

Now, I can fall in my own pond.

The previous owners of our house had put a decent size pond in the garden but covered it in a metal grill work. They had a reason – several small children – and while I don’t think falling in a pond is necessarily a bad thing you need to be there to haul them out. We do not have the problem and now most of our friends have kids that even if they did fall in – or push their siblings in, a more likely scenario – they should be able to get themselves out and subsequently spread foul smelling mud around the rest of the garden and the house before we could get them in a bath. So the grill work came off (after something of a struggle) and the pond is revealed finally after ten years of the doldrums.

You see, the bane of my life (other than my war against the fat ball stealer, the slugs, squirrels and particularly the new black cat threatening my wildlife friendly garden) is the duckweed.

I wish it had a different name as I like ducks, and maybe with enough ducks we could manage it, but for the last decade it has ruined the pond for me and indeed for everything else.

I’m not sure most of the garden wildlife even knew there was a pond there. It was just an expanse of green among other expanses of green. As soon as I netted some of the tuff off to reveal the murky darkness below however it has suddenly become a magnet for the local wildlife, with the birds drinking and bathing and we have had frogs and pond skaters, among others suddenly move back in. It is all rather marvelous and to me shows the importance of diversity in the garden; there are not many ponds in this area of town and now that this one has suddenly been, well, renovated it forms a stepping stone for some species between the parks and old watercress beds down closer to the river Ver. Ponds are also naturally summery at this time of year. As I sit on the opposite, watching the ants scurry around the paving stones of our mid garden patio, while several species of damselfly buzz around the pond in search of a mate it is hard not to feel in the middle of your own (admittedly very low budget) nature documentary.

I can even cope with the squirrels, including the one that came and sat right next to me, so obsessed it was with the handful of early raspberries I had just picked and put down next to me when I was on the phone. The poor furry tailed rat was so obsessed by berry goodness that it did not really want to move even when I waved it away from the fruit and instead retreated a short distance to sit and berate me with chattering cries for my lack of generosity in not allowing it to consume the first of the fruit of the season.

I’ll consider the close encounter a warning – I need to get to the fruit before this fruit loving slightly suicidal mammal if there is going to any jam this year; I’ll have to keep checking after the continual clearance of the dreaded duckweed as the garden reveals itself as that bottomless pit of needed activity as a puny pair of humans try valiantly to hold back nature (a war we will always eventually lose, but for a while, you can win some battles).

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