Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Mystery of the Disappearing Fish -- Solved!

Paris, Swishy, Face, Sully, Margaret -- only two of the fish in this picture are still there, the two all-orange ones on the left, Rosie and Oslo.

The five named, along with Lord Patu disappeared. The first to go were Swishy and Margaret; they disappeared last winter. Why they were gone, we couldn't tell. We never found their fishy bodies.

An acquaintance gave us nine HUGE goldfish to grace our pond; it wasn't long before two of them were killed, and their bodies we did find, but uneaten. That sounds like a cat to me, and I still believe that's what happened to the big fat fish.

But when Paris (the white one) disappeared, I was very puzzled, because Paris was too dumb to even come to the surface for food. Then Lord Patu, who was quite handsome, being half black and half orange, was suddenly gone, too. And the water plants had been knocked over. A raccoon?

The mystery was solved last Sunday as we watched football in the front room, whose front windows overlook the fish pond. Suddenly Alex shouted "Look at the pond!" and we turned to see a Great Egret in our little front yard, stalking the fish.

As we all rose to our feet, the bird saw us through the window and took off, looking as big as a house, snowy white against the blue-green shadows of the eucalyptus.

I guess I can't begrudge the loss of a few 10-cent feeder fish to an egret -- it was more of a tribute to our attempt at making a living habitat than an affront.

I wonder if that's why we didn't have any GPS toads in the pool this year?

And Now What Do You Do?

I probably could have finished NaNoWriMo on Thanksgiving, but instead we went to have dinner with good friends.

There was plenty of leeway, and much of the night before last I spent thinking, dreamily, about what I would write yesterday, and that was plenty of subject matter -- more than enough to reach the requisite 50,000 words. I reached 50,517 last night by the time the Steelers-Dolphins game began. After champagne to celebrate, we watched that mud-wrestling match for a while, then said, "Pfft," and went to bed.

This was my seventh attempt at NaNoWriMo. My daughter talked me into the first one; after that I was hooked. November has become a kind of "retreat" time -- a time to take stock of my hands and my brain and my ability to follow through with a project, and that is just all good, and it feels good to be done, the story (such as it was) told.

That story was garbage with a capital G. I had no beginning, no ending, just started from where last year's NaNovel left off and started rattling, letting the words pour out. Too many of them echoed the tragedy and sadness of this past year; more than once I found myself spilling tears as I wrote, even though the venue of silly fantasy should have been light-hearted and laughable.

It wasn't hard writing this year. I would just ensconce in my favorite comfy chair, open the laptop, and go away, to a different dimension, leaving all else behind -- except for the word counter, of course. When I would reach 2000 words, I'd find an "ending sentence" for a chapter, and then go back and name the chapter I had just written. And then shut down the machine and walk away.

Now done, re-reading what I wrote over the last month, I see how much I still miss my sister, and how her death left me with a well of loss. I also see echoes of my desire to help people, to let them know how precious they are in the scheme of things.

Informed thus, it will be interesting to see how this next year unfurls.

*Still wordy after NaNoWriMo, oh well.*