February 24, 2018 11:30:36 PM
"Men and fish are a lot alike. Both get into trouble when they open their mouth."
If there's anything you've got to love about the South, it's the intermittent periods of winter when the temperatures soar to the 80s, the sun shines warm and bright, the fields turn a glorious shade of green, daffodils bloom and forsythia and quince burst out. The rose bushes leaf even though you haven't pruned yet.
Harry, the cat, and I strolled to the greenhouse where everything was green all winter. While watering, I noticed one large pineapple plant had ants all over it. The warming trend has caused ants to appear, another sign of springing. Bougainvillea bloomed white and pink, as did the begonias, and two red geraniums sat happily on the windowsill.
Beside the goldfish pond Harry and I waited for goldfish to feed. The water was dark and scummy and leaves floated on top. The pond will need cleaning when temperatures truly warm. A scattering of fish food floated on the surface. I waited while Harry made himself comfortable under the bench. The cushions were not yet out so I could reach through the slats and scratch his underbelly.
While Harry squirmed and frolicked, throwing crepe myrtle pods in the air, I waited for the goldfish to surface. Every spring I hope they make it through the winter. After a few minutes of quiet observation, one goldfish surfaced, sucking in goldfish flakes. It was the largest of the four. Oh good, I thought. I've raised them since they were about an inch long. One of the goldfish, the smallest, now about three inches, was born in the pond. He was the lone survivor of 16, thanks to an interloper snake.
I waited and looked across the field. Henbit would be blooming soon. A sparse plant here and there was already showing. Once, I asked a local Extension horticulturist where I could get some of that purple plant that graced all the fields. He looked a bit confused and said, "Most folks try to get rid of it." I couldn't imagine. It was so beautiful and bountiful. I read deer like to eat it, but then, what won't they eat?
Finally a second goldfish surfaced and then another, and lastly, the small one. We had done it. We had weathered another winter. The fish were feeding -- all the fish were feeding. I consider if goldfish are feeding, perhaps river and creek fish are feeding. I use this information as my gauge to provide Sam with a fish-feeding report.
Harry and I walked back to the house. The rabbits and cats were fed, the bird feeder filled, and now the goldfish were feeding and the greenhouse plants watered. I found Sam in the kitchen where he said, "I'm thinking about going fishing."
"I'll wait while you hook the boat up and walk you out."
Then turning, I looked out to see the truck and boat outfitted and waiting in the driveway.
"You're thinking about fishing?"
"Well, yes. I was thinking real hard about it."
No doubt about it. Spring is springing in the Prairie.
Columns by Shannon Bardwell of Columbus appear in The Dispatch weekly. Email reaches her at [email protected]
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.