This summer in the meltdown the temperature soars to 49.5C in the shade in my neighbourhood. What saves my life is chilling in the naturalised pool, alias my water reservoir, which some call ‘the dam.’ Might have a derogatory undertone, but I am stone deaf to that insinuation. Funny, the first thing many people ask when they see it is "Do you swim in it?" Upon which I answer, no, I prefer to swim in chemicals...
Of course it is not perfect, but divine in its imperfection. A real Wabi Sabi pool … impermanent and rough at the edges. My guest, a greeny-in-training, does NOT wade in gently, respecting all those we share this space with. He bombs in. Big wave capsizes papyrus plant pot, ejecting resident spider couple across the surface towards us. He shrieks in horror. I hold him back from jumping out. “Trust me, we are not going to die here." Right the plant again. Startled spiders scamper back home.
I remember when my kids were small and used to watch the Bambi move a million times over. There is that point in the story, when the narrator says, with doom in his voice: “MAN … is in the forest.” We all know this spells disaster. Human guilt triggered appropriately in that moment.
Now my guest is super skittish, imagining all sorts of invisible creatures under the water, for indeed during the summer months the water is not clear. Of course a live water body is inhabited and enjoyed by diversity. Each one brings his own brand of magic and makes a precious contribution to the web of life. Now easy to startle, I am tempted to tease him…but select compassion instead.
Our only friends under the water, I say, are little paradise fish. Look here, you can see their babies at the edge. One centimetre long black fingerlings come to peep at us. They don’t have the instinct to avoid ‘man’ yet. But deeper down are the bigger red adults. They are very shy, I explain, you only see them if you sneak up on the pond very quietly. Then they will be sheltering around the lily pads on the steps.
No point telling him at this point about the daphnia – tiny creatures sucking onto the pool walls, eating the algae. Nature’s vacuum cleaners … natural creepy crawlies. (Hence we have never had problems with these green growers.) This might gross him out too much. Slow initiation, I think. After all we are in a live eco system, hence the life force just lifts you out of any climate dump you may have been in.
“You should christen people in this pool,” another friend said yesterday. Indeed, nature does so herself, once you overcome your need for a sad, dead, bleached, blue body called a domestic pool.
Back-to-earth in a domestic garden is a journey of splendid lessons, and hard learning at times. This pool is a gentle but persistent teacher.
No, says my friend, you’re joking. There are no bigger red fish. This is all there is. Like the story of tortoise who thought the dam was all there was, until eagle carried him into the heavens.
We’re standing, a little more relaxed now, in the water, next to the edge. How to dispel this disbelief, I wonder? The next moment a brave red fish hurls himself out of the water, landing on the paving right in front of our noses. As per illustration, here I am!
I reach out, thank him for the cooperation and place him quickly back into the water. Moved, I say wow, how’s THAT? Did you see that? Nah, he says, what’s so strange about that? These fish do NOT jump. Ever!
None so blind as those who would not see. What will it take? To me it was a sacred moment. Nature will teach us, whether we’re ready or not. Time to pay attention. Such a gift. Thank you.
Elma and the team
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Moving through the earth, seeping, dripping, flowing. Increasingly treated and sold as a commodity. The next world war is tipped to be fought over it. It is absolutely vital to all forms of life. Water.
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