LAST WEEK, in Newton, Massachusetts, a biker of the peddling sort noticed a baby raccoon stuck in a sewer grate. How it got there is anyone’s guess, but it took two hours, seven firemen, a veterinarian, a dousing with shampoo, constricting with dental floss and a tranquilizer gun to unplug him or her. The sex of the raccoon was not mentioned.
The story appeared in the Washington Post online and a host of other illustrious news sources on what must have been an extremely slow news day.
This is neither here nor there, however.
As it happened, this was on the very same day that I was contemplating the latest rig My Prince had installed to keep our personal raccoon out of the damn pond and away from his precious feeder fish which, as I’ve explained numerous times, are the fish you buy 10 for a buck to feed your anaconda—but look attractive enough when they’re alive.
When we last left the pond, however, the fish were tragically floating on the surface.
That time, their demise was for mysterious reasons, which distressed my beloved no end, particularly because there was no way he could blame me. A week or so later, he moped off to Petco or PetSmart or what-not and adopted new ones.
The latest batch are just starting to respond to his voice, darting up to the surface of the little pond searching for crumbs of food. My Prince just glows at the attention. Not like he’s not bribing them or anything, oh no.
Then, several disappeared in the night. As the plants and stones were in some disarray, we figured the Procyon lotor (to get Latin about it) was back. Further proof: distinctly raccoon-shaped footprints on the white porch sofa cushions. Sushi always makes him (or her) sleepy.
A rummage in the garage brought forth a dark green milk crate, which my warrior set upside down on the pond floor. In theory, the fish are small enough to dash into the holes and hide if the midnight marauder returned, or so he thought.
This is an extremely unattractive addition to a pond that I’ve been trying to make seem a natural and sylvan little glen, or as natural as a kidney-shaped black plastic tub can be. Its flagstone rim is bordered with ferns and caladium, jasmine and moss, and the occasional (when I’m feeling flush) orchid or three. The amethyst crystal at the headless statue’s base is recharging.
It is my personal homage to the US Botanic Garden’s delightful little orchid chamber, which features a pond with a cunning log bridge and ferns and orchids and such. Theirs is somewhat more successful than mine—though I do have more birds and butterflies flittering about.
Clearly, the milk crate doesn’t fit in with the vision; you have to stand back a few feet and not look straight down. Just assume there are fish.
Plants! I thought, cover it with plants.
Heading over to Gingko Gardens, our local gardening emporium, I picked up a few water hyacinths, which I was told would flower and multiply even in the spotty sunlight the pond receives. As I’ve trod this very path before, I know this to be an untruth, but I chose to believe. . . .
These were tucked in the holes of the crate, the fantasy being that they would multiply and cover the unsightly rig. Unfortunately, the raccoon finds them nearly as tasty as the fish. I imagine him (or her) plucking them with his (or her) scary little fingers and sitting among the ferns to munch and contemplate the crate.
Yesterday, I wandered out with my morning coffee to see if my plumeria had done anything interesting (of this I’m beginning to despair) and found the crate tipped over, shreds of dead plant life strewn across the pond’s surface—and several more fish had ascended to heaven.
The crate is now back in place, white letters spelling out RECYCLE in bold type, topped with several rusted iron bars, and a conch shell which I suppose is an attempt at decoration. This fails.
Perhaps a tasteful mat of plastic shrubbish might be wired to the crate top. Best get to it soon, otherwise My Prince will be breaking out the barbed wire. A garden pond is such a lovely thing.
Maybe plastic fish?
LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” finds urban wildlife adventures every time she strays out back.