What can you do when you can’t do very much? It depends, I guess, on whatever you were used to doing! Years ago, an epochal age maybe, I dug a hole in our back garden in an afternoon. I lined it with a leftover single-membrane roofing sheet saved from landfill, and carried bucket after bucket from the outside tap (we had no hose yet) until the new ‘pond’ was almost filled with water.
For some time I had carried around two tubs crammed with all the waterlillies that had survived the voraciously hungry Castle Cary ducks on the town’s Horse-pond. Sadly the yellow lily didn’t make it, but the reds came through. In the tubs I also had some mosses, oxygenators and snails and other assorted wild things. These were emptied into their new home, the lillies spread out their leaves but they looked a little lost in their new environment, but that evening we watched a pond skater zipping up and down. We called him Pierre, naturally.
I waited and watched the new pond. It remained unnaturally clear and the edges of the liner stayed uncut and pointing at the sky. I planned to trim them, fold them under rocks etc, all in good time. A week later Celine arrived home with our three children and four bags with fish in them. The fish, all with names like Carrot, Serious Black and Radioactive, settled in quickly and the pond began to become a real wildlife magnet.
Fast forward to today and the pond has gone from strength to strength. At lunchtime there were already eight blooms above the waterline from the Attractions and Aurora lilys and there are dozens of fish too. Since I cannot work during my convalescence I have begun to make good the edges of the pond, unfortunately this means disrupting an extensive ant colony that has also thrived beside the pool. I have been bitten a few times. The stings remind me I am alive.
The air is thick with butterflies and dragonflies, wasps and flying beetles, all coming for a sip of water or to lay eggs. There are two very slender dragonflies, bright red, dancing together just above the waterline, dipping down onto a lilypad for a second before spinning off to the new water mint in the margins. Above them there is another dragonfly, a bright blue specimen the size of my thumb.
I have been using found stone and old tommette tiles that were in the barn. Our wedding stone, a mini-menhir stands at one end, and we also have an old milling stone, most likely once used in the production of cider. The work isn’t finished yet, but there is time enough, good time, and I’m looking forward to the next time I am up for a little landscaping.