ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   It was a miracle

© Another Day in the Country

Monday was the night of the blood moon and I had every intention of getting up to see it. Hearing news of this eclipse and the time it was to be seen in Kansas, I set my mental clock; but alas my clock was still not on daylight saving time and I missed it. The moon was shining bright when I stood on the front porch peering into the sky. The miracle, the eclipse, was over.

As I wandered back to bed to sleep off the rest of the hours until daybreak, I thought about all the ancestors in ages past who must have seen the phenomena of the blood moon and wondered about its meaning. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Dan the Science Man or Public Radio’s Science Friday to explain the unexplainable.

Whenever the unexplainable happened in my childhood, it was always attributed to either God or the devil, depending upon whether it was good or bad. You can tell that we weren’t a scientific family, bent on exploration. No wonder that I slept right through the eclipse. However, I do have three more chances this year to see the show.

I did my own scientific experiment this winter to see if I could winter-over some of my tropical pond plants. You may recall this story and probably many of you predicted the outcome; but I had to try. The last time I’d tried this stunt, it was with one plant and a small dish of water. I thought that perhaps it was the size of the container — that went dry easily — causing my plants to wither and die. So this time, I provided a grow light and the expansive guest room bathtub as habitat.

Long story short, in spite of my enthusiasm and spacious quarters, the plants died one by one until about a month ago — still a month shy of being able to go back into the pond — I had one living, growing, starting to multiply, plant which I removed from the tub and quarantined under its own grow light, hoping against hope that it would survive. It didn’t.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, aquatic in nature, it was time to go fishing. (Remember? I have four miracle, vagrant fish who hitchhiked on plants, in my tub and five “gold” fish that we bought for the 12 days of Christmas to delight my grandson.) I remembered how difficult those five fish had been to catch in the confines of the pet store and I knew we were up against a challenge in the bathtub — even without the poor pond plants.

The plants, in their survival struggle, had shed tiny root filaments which lay thick on the bottom of the tub. The minute the cat appeared on the edge of the tub for his hour of entertainment in the evening, the fish would flip their tails through that sediment and stir things up , making themselves virtually invisible. Smart fish.

And now it was up to me to outsmart the fish! I secretly tried several sizes of sieves and strainers before I asked for help. These guys were fast. One day I devised a plastic “trap” out of the covering over a dozen rolls of paper towels. It had promise, but once I got the fish inside the load of water was so heavy it split out the bottom.

Next I went to the store and bought a yard of net and fashioned it the width of the tub. This waltz through the silt “netted” me three of the biggest fish which I dumped in the bucket and subsequently the pond.

Talk about an eclipse. This switch from inside to outside, little to big, isolation to a huge community of like-minded fish as big as whales (to them) was mind boggling. Was it God or the devil that did this to them? They still aren’t sure, even though I’m feeling very benevolent.

My sister came up with the idea of using “pond plant” baskets to sieve out more fish. She even caught the elusive loach. I was so relieved. He’s the sneaky one I was most worried about. This left us with two quick-witted little stragglers. I began lowering the water in the tub and then stopped when the phone rang — or at least I thought I stopped. I’m still on the phone when Jess comes running out of the bathroom headed for the pond. She’d found the fish in mere drops of water, gasping for breath, now easy to catch and soon resuscitated by some pretty icy outdoor pond water.

For those two last little fishes, this experience was life altering. They must have been praying for deliverance and then just as the light at the end of the tunnel beckoned they were caught up by an angel and found themselves, like us, in a small pond, a small town, to miraculously spend another day in the country.

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