Monday, July 05, 2010

Spring Cleaning Memories

" Memory is continually created, a story told and retold, using jigsaw pieces of experience. It's utterly unreliable in some ways, because who can say whether the feeling or emotion that seems to belong to the recollection actually belongs to it rather than being available from the general store of likely emotions we have learned? Memory is not false in the sense that it is willfully bad, but it is excitingly corrupt in its inclination to make a proper story of the past." Jenny Diski

I put on the extra large waders and ventured into the pond yesterday, which turned out to jog the jigsaw memories on the card table of my mind. You can see how shallow the pond is – barely rcovering my knees.

This excursion into the pond recalled memories of other chapters the story of love and loss in our backyard pond. Koi need at least 4 feet of depth to survive predatory attacks from great heron, gophers and skunks. Let's just say my knees are way less than 4 feet deep. Since the last midnight massacre a few years back, we have lost all our sparkling golden and white friends, some of them 20+ years old.

But despite the death of most of the fauna, the flora survived. Hardy pink water lilies, toad lilies, some lovely tall pond plant with fragrant short-lived purple spikes of flower, and a free floating grass mat so thick that small songbirds could miraculously walk around on it. Since we no longer stock the pond or visit our long lost koi, plants dine on the layer of excitingly corrupt muck at the bottom. The plants have overrun the pond like Godzilla rampaging a tiny black and white model of Tokyo.

I waded unarmed into a Mekong delta jungle of the pond’s thriving water-plant habitat. There was much more below the water that didn’t meet the eye, providing a metaphor for the under-water oil plumes overtaking the Gulf. Outgrowing pots, the water plants settled in the 5-year-old decomposing muck on the bottom. The primordial ooze forms with fallen leaves and pine needles a few surprisingly large branches, decomposing plant matter, fish feces, and several various and heavy stones – once stacked to give cover and long since having collapsed in rubble

And the smell. I plunged up to my arms into the muck, with each splash anointing myself in this eau d’ mud. I can think of nothing so excitingly corrupt as that smell of old pond muck, slurping and draining on the side of a muddy pond and beginning to dry out. I could still smell it my hands this morning, despite a very long and very olfactory product-laden shower last night.

I wouldn't know an “excitingly corrupt” inclinations to re-write history if it bit my hand; but I do remember that yesterday was pretty corrupt.

On second thought this morning, I'm thinking that there are a lot worse ways to be corrupt than exciting. Riding the sled of life down the increasingly slippery slope, I submit that delightfully exciting is a lovely kind of corrupt to become. Moreover, I don’t care whether I’m newly learning it, or whether I'm just trying to remember today's story. What matters is that I’m already halfway to becoming excitingly corrupt myself.


tina said...

I guess we are all excitingly corrupt because we all tend to skew or slant our memories to what we wish to remember. I know I do. My memory is just not there and it is not like I do it on purpose, but who knows? Your pond is lovely. Too bad about the massacre. I lost a few fish to a predator too and I can tell you it hurt me. I hated to lose the fish. Couldn't imagine losing 20 year long friends of fish that must've been big. Maybe try again and add a net over the pond?

Les said...

I prefer to refer to my pond corruptions as compost and spread it librally around the garden. The plants love it and so do the flies.

chaiselongue said...

That pond muck does look excitingly corrupt and there must have been something very satisfying about wading around in it, doing the spring cleaning.

What are you doing with your tomatoes? Eating them green? I thought they were poisonous like that. We should pick our first red ones tomorrow or the next day.