Friday, June 26, 2009

Fish Saved by Gentle Persuasion

“You can do more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word.”
Al Capone

My perfect and adorable cat serves a function other than making it necessary to change a litter box weekly. She’s like the tiny rubber gasket on the lid of a pressure cooker. Holding her up to my ear while she purrs releases enough steam to prevent my head from exploding.

She also recently saved the life of a fish. She noticed something on the patio the other morning, and kept running between the windows facing the incident, being more vocal than usual. I finally took notice. Because I’m a half blind idiot, I thought it looked like a bird flapping around on the patio to get seed spilled from a bird feeder overhead. So, I got the camera to get a zoomed-in picture. Imagine my surprise when I saw this through the lens of the camera:

I shouted to my faithful spouse, who came running. We – and by we, I mean he – managed to get the koi back into the pond and save its life. This time of year the fish are making babies and that involves a bit of jumping around. I imagine he had quite a tale to tell about his escape from the pond.

We used to net the too-shallow pond to protect the fish from egrets and raccoons. One morning, the net had been torn and many of the more colorful fish were distributed throughout the yard, partly eaten. It was horrible and it made us decide not to replace fish or net. However, we later observed that there were survivors whose dark color confers some camouflage – like the guy in the picture. I moved some pond plants from the shallow end to the main pond to give them cover, where they have lurked in safely since the massacre.

The previous day, this fish-out-of-water event had been weirdly and dramatically foreshadowed.

I was hand watering in the sunny back yard, topping off the half whiskey barrel that houses a lotus plant and a few mosquito fish to eat larvae. When I refill the barrel, I generally use a heavy spray to aerate the water. I noticed a small movement on the grass adjacent to the water and realized I’d sprayed a small fish out and onto the ground. Before my girlie yuck reflex kicked in, I dropped the hose and heroically gathered the squirming thing in my hands, returning him or her to the water. For my trouble, the dropped hose turned on me viciously and soaked my shirt, which I thought was an unfair payback for my brave and selfless action, but once again I was reminded that life isn’t fair.

What any of this has to do with Al’s wise words about kind words isn’t clear, except that I have to respect his form of persuasion in the face of life’s unfairness. Perhaps my kitty’s annoying vocal attempts to persuade me to look outside were simply her version of Lassie - barking to alert Timmy’s mom that Timmy had fallen down the well.


tina said...

Cute story. You have to laugh at the hose turning on you and that should be a reward!

Anonymous said...

Sweet and funny post! though not sure i agree with your conclusion re: feline altruism. Loved the "girlie yuck reflex" bit...