For these days of Covid social distancing my husband and I decided we needed a hobby. A dog seemed to be too much of a commitment. A cat would not work because we live in the remote woods and they are cayotes favorite dish. An inside cat would not work because we live in a Tiny Home. But we are situated on 10 acres with two ponds. Our lower pond has a lovely dock where we can walk out over the water by four feet.

We settled on goldfish at 35 cents each. We put 10 in the pond and within a day two were belly-up. Not defeated we went to the pet store and bought 20 more. It seemed that they all made it.

And just like every other pet, it occurs to you too late into the process that this is a never-ending cycle of buying things. It’s like the Barbie Doll version of aquatics. You have to buy the rake to clear the algae. Add shade food coloring to the water so that the blue heron don’t stand in the middle of your pond like an all-night Sushi bar. You have to buy the right food, which is to say, not bread crumbs, even really good whole wheat ones. And like cats, goldfish are persnickety. They don’t like flakes. Excuseeeee me.

My husband has taken to buying bags of goldfish food in 10-pound bags like dogfood. But not just any food. These are mini orange Cheeto ™ looking nuggets. And there are different bags for the time of the year. Who knew these glorified carp had such delicate stomachs? Not me when I thought my entire investment was $10.50. Hardy-har-har.

Okay, I was in deep, well, only three feet or so, but I decided to “train” them to come to the dock to be fed when I stomped my feet. And they came in droves. In fact, the scary, weird, and predictably 2020 Stephen King level phenomenon is that not only did our brightly colored goldfish come for meal time, about 40 brown carp appeared out of nowhere. This pond is not connected to another water source. We have to fill it with a garden hose. The brown fish were three times bigger than out store bought variety. They looked like the Dementors from Harry Potter. But of course they did, it’s the year 20-&%$#-20.

But wait, it gets seriously weirder. And just like 2020, whose only job, apparently, is to top awful with unbelievable. The dark shadows that leap out of the water for food started turning colors. First green showed up on their flanks. Next the green turned to chartreuse and then to gold. It turns out the specialty goldfish food enhances color. So now we had 70 carp related fish.

And of course, it gets beyond the pale. The big brown, now gold fish are apparently having beaucoup babies. I think we have another 40 fish in the nursery. Last I saw my husband, he was making a sign that read: Blue herons, racoons and bull frogs. Today’s menu is small brown carp and anything else you can find. In case any of the birds take my husband up on his offer, I made an artistic mural memorializing our carp, koi and whatever those other brown/yellow/orange fish are. It hangs in our laundry room.

Fish mural

Sally Franz and her third husband live on the Olympic Peninsula. She has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren. Sally is the author of several humor books including Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Menopause

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