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In Focus



When my wife and I used to daydream about having our own place, sometimes our wishful thoughts involved having an aquarium. But not just any aquarium: a big, wall-length sucker stocked full of petite darting wonders so crazily colored they look made-up. It would be a melting pot of South Pacific sea life, right in our own home. We wouldn't even need a TV anymore, so tied up would we be in the little fish-world soap-opera panorama playing out in our living room.

So we dreamed big -- nothing wrong with that. What we got, though, instead of the super-cool fish tank, was a koi pond full of leaves.

The folks who lived in our home prior to us had a pond installed sometime in the last couple years. The pond was actually quite attractive when we first viewed the home, late summer last year -- landscaped all around with lots of large rocks, pieces of driftwood, and creeping plants. In the pond were live water lilies and anacharis and even fish! Several big goldfish, a school of little goldfish, and even a Kohaku koi (that last is up for debate) were in the pond.

So, we bought the house. Not because of the pond, mind you, but it certainly didn't present a stumbling block. Once we took possession, I immediately began actively not dealing with the pond. By the time we moved in, it was almost autumn, and getting hands-on with the pond seemed like more of a spring thing. Besides, the fish seemed fine, and I would surely only screw that up by trying anything.

You live and learn. Fall happened, and the trees in our backyard did what comes natural, dropping leaves like gravity got increased tenfold. You know how they do. Bad news, though: Apparently in the pond with the anacharis and suspected Kohaku is some kind of leaf-attraction device. I'm pretty sure every leaf in the tri-state area loaned their leaves to my pond.

So that's why a few weekends ago, I found myself leaning over the pond, up to my elbows in the water, fishing leaves out with my hands, pulling them carefully because I didn't want to catch any fish. It was nasty business. This is what you get when you don't cover your pond in the fall. I worked about two hours and didn't get halfway done.

And I loved every minute of it. It was exciting to see the fish hearty and hale even though the pond froze over a few times during the winter, and nothing could take away from the fact that I wasn't just cleaning out some dirty pond, I was cleaning out my dirty pond.

Home ownership, if it teaches you nothing else, instructs you on the rewards of being a little bold. You'll no doubt do things you never thought you'd have to do, and not all of it seems fun on the surface. But don't be too shy (I can't bring myself to say "coy") because, as they say, "El riesgo siempre vive."

But I'll be covering the pond this fall.

Greg Akers

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