Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Death in the Garden

I have a tiny fishpond in my garden, about 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep. Over the years, i've learned a few things about fish. In order for them to survive the winter and 10 inches of ice, the ice needs to be broken every day. Otherwise, autumn's decomposing leaves on the bottom use up all the oxygen in the water and create anaerobic conditions. In the spring, i find dead fish and dead frogs among the dead leaves.

Six years ago i stocked the pond with 4 fish, and a month later they died. Six weeks later, we found a hundred tiny fish babies in the pond; they had survived because their parents hadn't cannibalized those tasty fish eggs. I gave dozens of fish away, and watched as, over the past 3 years, the population attritioned from 19 to 9.

Now this week, i've been finding a dead 5-inch-long fish every day. I've gone through all my theories: Ammonia build-up in the water due to fish waste? Algae using all the oxygen? Ick (a fish disease)? This morning's dead fish had traces of blood, so now i'm beginning to suspect the feral cat i caught napping pondside last week.

Whatever the cause, one thing is certain: Death. The only uncertainty is the time of death. We may die today, or 30 years from now.

In the time that remains to us, can we glimpse the Deathless? This is one reason to practice meditation. The physical body dies, and with the body dies the self.

Unless there isn't a self anyway.

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