Little did I know when I bought this house a little over a year ago that having a pond (okay – call it a water feature; it’s small) in the back yard would turn me into a Marlin Perkins wannabe. I loved watching Wild Kingdom when I was a kid, but I’m not fond of camping or “roughing it,” so I never aspired to experience nature’s critters in their natural habitats firsthand.
Now I am happy to report that a few of those critters have turned up in my back yard. I can just stroll to the pond and see all the wildlife a girl like me could ask for: different kinds of birds, squirrels and chipmunks (the bane of my dogs’ existence), and best of all, frogs and fish. Yes, I had to actually BUY the fish, so it’s not like they have a choice in the matter, but the birds, squirrels, and frogs showed up of their own accord.
I now have seven fish. Four of them stayed behind and hid from the previous owners when they tried to catch them to relocate to their new pond in Mentor. There are “fish caves” in the pond and the guys who wanted to stay with me and the frogs hid in the caves until the old owners left. At one time there were six. I have no idea what happened to two of them. Herons? I’m told that blue herons can empty a pond in a heartbeat and have been seen around here on other occasions. The bastards.
Anyway, when the previous owners removed their koi (which apparently were up for the move and probably too large to hide in the caves, anyway), only goldfish were left. One is a kind of white-ish goldfish, if that’s a thing, but the rest are orange. Pretty, but I wanted some variety. I decided to go to a pond store in Painesville to check out their fish and came home with two comets and a shubunkin. One comet is white with black and orange spots. It reminds me of a calico cat, so I named it Miss Kitty. The other comet is beautifully marked orange and white and the little shubunkin is gray with orange, black and white markings. I haven’t named any of the fish except Miss Kitty, so far.
I also bought some fish food at the pond store because the lady there said it would help me bond with the fish. She was right. I didn’t know I was interested in bonding with fish, other than to enjoy a good perch sandwich now and then or some grilled halibut, but I now go out every day, usually around lunch time, and the fish get excited and swim up to say hello and get a snack. No, I am not kidding. We have bonded. I will get back to you later with names for everyone. Since I can’t tell the three orange goldfish apart, I think I should name them Darryl, Darryl and my other brother Darryl.
I have to tell you, though, the frogs are my favorite. I’ve counted six, though usually there are only half that many visible at one time. The problem is that the dogs (mostly Mick, admittedly) scare them, and they’re smart to be wary. This week Mick found a chipmunk (more wild animals!) hiding among the rocks at the top of the waterfall. He killed it and brought it out onto the lawn to admire for a while before I took it away from him and put it in the trash. He’d definitely go for a frog if the opportunity presented itself. I congratulated Mick on his hunting skills, but I’d just as soon not deal with any more dead rodents for a while.
So after feeding the fish today, I was just standing there chatting with the fish and the frogs when two of the frogs started getting frisky. In fact – they started playing LEAP FROG. No shit. Then they’d wrestle a little bit, until one would break away and hide in the reeds. Lots of talking, too. I love the sound they make – like strumming a banjo. Doing! The frogs would wrestle, then separate, then wrestle some more. I’m wondering if it’s mating season – I don’t think it should be – or if they’re just playing. Whatever it was, I was just delighted with the entertainment. Frogs playing leap frog. Fabulous.
So that’s the news from my own little Wild Kingdom today. The Boys (my dogs) are asleep on the bench that wraps around in front of the windows in my office/dining room (it’s my office about 363 days out of the year and gets cleaned up and transformed to serve a meal to guests maybe twice a year). Chipmunks and frogs can safely cavort out back for the time being. I hear the froggie banjos strumming, and that makes me smile.