Tree and Fish Fashion Show

November 6, 2008

In our yard, autumn turns elegant Japanese laceleaf maples into flashy look-at-me strippers. For several days each year, the tree hovering over the pond dons the color of the goldfish swimming beneath its branches. An exception is their recent offspring, little gray clouds that won’t brighten until spring.

Cold has already induced torpor among the big fish, which have lost their dart-hither-and-there charm. In fact, they barely eat compared to the thrice-daily frenzied feedings just two months ago.

In summer at the sound of my footsteps, the fish huddle at the edge of the back deck. They kiss the surface all at once, as if they love me more than the food they yearn. But in these cold and dreary days I’m shunned, a nobody on the outside world.

Soon I won’t feed them. Doing so could kill them because their metabolism dwindles to almost nothing in winter. I’ll see them on rare sunny days, languishing at the bottom where the disrobed leaves swirl limp and devoid of color.