My goldfish, Sparky and Butch, seem not to care at all that the pond pump is broken. Somehow they have survived three winters (with a pump), so I should have known they’d make it through the last one, which means I can’t empty the water and clean it out. There must be a decade’s worth of dirt mingled with leaves and fish poop that should be cleared. Sparky and Butch don’t mind, which makes them all the more lovable. And adaptable to what is an extremely elemental residence. I don’t feed them, they survive, happily apparently, on whatever’s in there. A new pump is coming soon.

Jinny Greenteeth

Jinny Greenteeth

Pond life is wonderful to watch. My granddaughter Kate finds it irresistible and so do I. I like the pond and the area around it, which I call my temenos (sacred grove), to be as wild as possible. Still, I’ve got to thin the water lilies, so tangled they hardly bloom anymore. Nothing for it but to dive in with Sparky and Butch to get the job done.

Water iris doesn’t work for me, it needs too much sun, and water hyacinths are raccoon delicacies. Duckweed, which country folk used to call Jinny Greenteeth, thrives. It grows like a carpet thick across the pond’s surface and has to be swept constantly with a net. The thinnings are great for the compost. It was said that Jinny Greenteeth was a water witch, and that when children mistook the green rug for solid ground, she pulled them under and stole them away.

Little swimming, bobbing insects simply “appear” in the pond, convincing me that the ancient Greeks were right to believe in parthenogenesis. They dance or rest on the duckweed, as if they were tiny rafts. The wasps fetch water for their gorgeous nests and if we don’t bother them, they leave us alone, too.

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One day, as I approached the pond to read, write or just think, as I do each summer morning, I realized that I had reproduced a lagoon that was near my uncle’s house in Chile. My garden is built of “pretend” and it is built of remembrances. All gardens are dreams, time revisited, memories rearranged.

And — in case you were wondering, April 25, in ancient Rome was the festival of Robigalia, when dogs were sacrificed to project the grain in the fields from disease.

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