When I wrote the epilogue to Pets, Revisited (see last post) a few years ago, our goldfish Hobbes was still kicking it in his own private pond in our backyard. We had dug the little pond ourselves, put in a preformed liner, and stocked it with ten scrawny little 27 cent feeder fish. These are the fish that are sold as food for superior aquarium fish or pet turtles. They spend their last days on death row in ghastly, overcrowded cells teeming with their fellow inmates, both living and dead. Sadly, their reprieve in our pond was short-lived. The fish died with alarming rapidity one after the other until only one survivor named Hobbes was left.
Hobbes flourished and thrived year after year, eventually developing into a magnificent, brilliant red specimen. When last we saw him, he was about seven inches long. For seven years, our first Hobbes sighting of the year was cause for rejoicing. It meant that spring had finally arrived. Our affection for him grew with each winter he weathered. He even managed to survive The Great Olive Oil Catastrophe of 2011, when a little neighbor friend accidentally spilled an entire bottle of the stuff into the pond. However absurd it may seem, we loved that fish inordinately.
A couple years ago, we were crushed when he did not make his customary reappearance in the spring. We figured he was eaten by a cat or a raccoon, or that maybe he died of old age. We never restocked the pond again and since it didn’t have any fish left in it, we neglected it. It was full of leaves and mud. A few stones that had covered the edges of the liner fell into the water and we never bothered to pull them back out.
This past Friday morning I heard my daughter shouting that there were two baby fish that looked just like Hobbes swimming in the pond! I still don’t know how this is possible. But then again, in the depths of winter it’s hard to believe that the spare white landscape will one day melt to reveal a muddy, gaudy, exuberant display of life in all of its glory. This little miracle is just what I needed to reset after this endless winter. Miracles do happen, every single spring.