The Tiny Patch of Lawn Where My Pond Once… er… Well… Was…


A tiny patch of newly-laid green sward this may well be to you, but to me, this is where the pond once stood (lay? sank?). Under this blanket of England’s ‘green and pleasant’ lies the remnants of my mini lough, now rubble-filled and soil over-laid. At night I can hear the frogs croaking their lament for its passing.

Perhaps I should begin by telling you about the ex-watering hole. It was unlike most ponds: being wide and shallow with gently sloping pebble strewn sides (to ensure that any passing wildlife would find an easy passage to the water, in order to facilitate drinking, and an easy passage out, to facilitate not drowning) and with the constantly flowing ‘waterfall’, the water was always warm and teeming with life. When we had fish (before the local heron realised that what he had here was a living bouillabaisse) they bred with abandon, the fry having ample protection amongst the pebbles and ready access to more aquatic invertebrates than you could shake a stick at. Every year we dealt out bucket-loads of whitebait to anyone who could offer them a safe home. Something that it turned out we were unable to do as we returned home from holiday one year to discover that the aforesaid ardeidae had scoffed the lot. Amongst dozens of large goldfish and orfe, we lost the only two fish I have ever named (Laurel and Hardy – two large Ghost Koi) and hundreds of assorted hybrid offspring. I was devastated and, although the pond remained, it was never to have fish in again.

Instead, it became home to (when I eventually drained it) over a hundred frogs and toads. They loved life amongst the lilies; they dozed in the oozing sediments at the water’s base, they crushed together in the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall. In the spring they turned the water into a broiling hotbed of amphibian procreation, leaving the water like a giant bowl of translucent sago pudding which became nightmare for my slightly frog-phobic wife.

A couple of miles away from us (as the frog hops) is a small lake fed by the beck that runs through the village and it was there that I took the many bucket-loads of reluctant amphibians to be re-homed. Many have already found their own way back. You can see them every evening, sitting where the water once fell, croaking forlornly into the night.
Towards its end of days, the pond had just one other vertebrate resident and that was a solitary newt I called Tiny. (This is Tiny. I call him Tiny – he’s my newt.) He has gone to live in a neighbour’s pond. He is alive and well and, currently, showing no desire to return to the waters of his previous alma mater. He has not yet joined the frogs in their nocturnal hop around the new green ‘carpet’, wondering where all the wet stuff has gone.

The pond was a daily chore: clearing blanket weed, cleaning the pump, repositioning migrating pebble hordes, repatriating promenading toads and helping shrieking wife down from garden bench – but, like the frogs, I really miss it. The garden is more child-friendly now: there is room for them to kick a ball around; they can run around without the associated risk of drowning, but they can’t fish for waterboatmen anymore. They can’t watch the frogs catching flies at the water’s edge in the early evening. They cannot witness the miracle that is the spawn/tadpole/froglet/frog metamorphosis. More to the point, they cannot ‘accidentally’ fall in the bloody thing anymore and fill their shoes with gloop. What they can do is sit with me in the gloaming on this tiny patch of lawn-where-the-pond-used-to-be and reminisce over orange squash and biscuits, about the fun we used to have and listen to the tiny thuds as the frogs bash their heads on the large copper mushrooms that have lately appeared in its place…

A goldfish’s memory, they say, is about ten seconds long – which is just about as long as it takes to read thi…
A goldfish’s memory they say, is about ten seconds long – which is just about as long as it takes to read thi…
A goldfish’s memory they say…

5 thoughts on “The Tiny Patch of Lawn Where My Pond Once… er… Well… Was…

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