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What Fish Talk About

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Gill: What's amazing to me is how I can eat parrot feather all day, every day, and it's still delicious. Yeah, a little parrot feather, a side of anacharis — for me, that's a meal.

Finn: Right there with you. It's a good afternoon if you can curl up under a water hyacinth or lily and enjoy the day, especially now that the water temperature is up around 60. I was so sluggish before.

Gill: And it's nice with the depth of this place. I heard when they first built it, it was only a foot deep.



Finn: No!

Gill: Yes. You can imagine the problems they had with algae when it was shallower. Now that it's — what? — 20, 24 inches deep, the pond's really gotten established. And I love what they've done with the neighborhood: oakleaf hydrangea on the shore with those white flowers that show up at night and bigroot geranium, asters, irises.

Finn: I rather enjoy these submerged pots on the shelf there. Those are, ah, arrowhead, sweet flag, pickerel rush. Lot of cover for us. And it's nice that they put that plastic owl up there and the overturned bucket down at the bottom for us to hide when The Heron comes around.

Gill: You should have seen your eyes the last time! They were as big and round as dinner plates!

Finn: They always are.

Gill: True, true. Still, it was funny. Finn, allow me to get philosophical for a moment, if you will. It's pretty wild to see all these elements -- you, me, the pH of the water, the plants and all — really start to come together, to organize, to create something that includes all of us, but is, you know, larger than all of us, working on its own. A bigger whole or something.

Finn: Yeah, it's called an ecosystem, Gill. Bio I.

Gill: Well, right. But, man, it took a lot of work to get here! Especially because they went with the flexible plastic liner, having to dig the hole, line the slopes with carpet, make sure the fabric doesn't bunch up. I heard the waterfall kept falling during construction.

Finn: I think this "custom home" look is really nice. Ah, the prefabs are good, too. I mean, they're sturdy and easier to install, but there's something to be said for the flexible liner — you can design the look of the thing, play with the size and shape … it's total control.

Gill: Yeah, for total control freaks. When did the kidney-shaped pond go out of style?

Finn: Hey, did you hear about the koi down the block? They got one of those poured concrete jobs. Very sort of "overgrown Hollywood chic."

Gill: Oh, well, la-di-da. Hey, remember that first year? Oh! This pond had more mood swings than Tom Cruise! Ha!

Finn: Ha-ha! Wait. I don't get it.

Gill: Ah, that's because you're a fish. You remember, getting the pH right took so much time. Then there were the algae blooms, the leaves falling into the water, the raccoons. The pump and the netting over the top helped a lot with all that. But this was one unbalanced pond.

Finn: That's sort of to be expected, I think, in that first year, getting the — say it with me now — "ecosystem" established. But with a pond, you get the tranquility and quiet energy of nature, but also its tendency for sudden change. Speaking of change, in the July Horticulture there's an article about natural swimming pools. Apparently the Germans and Austrians have become quite fond of building water gardens that spill into swimming areas. The plants clean and filter the water so there's no need for chemicals. And it all cycles around. Looks pretty sharp from a design standpoint. But what a system! Imagine people swimming here with us! Maybe The Heron would grab them! Anyway, great article. Did you read it?

Gill: No, man, I'm a fish.

With thanks to Lyla Buchanan, who has also organized the Hanover Safe Place Pond and Garden Tour and Tea June 10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The tour of five local water gardens costs $10-$12. For more information, call 752-2728 or visit www.hanoversafeplace.com.

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