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The Heron & The Web

by Carlotta

Carl and Carlotta arrived at the house, the garden although very small, was so neglected, and over-grown it was difficult to walk from one end to another – years ago it must have been lovely. Outside the kitchen door was a paved area leading to an archway and then through to another paved area in which was a delightful oblong pond – on clearing away much weed and leaf debris they found, much to their delight, that there were goldfish living in it – how wonderful! Around the far edge years earlier someone had planted bamboo whose leaves had fallen into the water and completely hidden the beautiful goldfish, so it was only when these leaves were cleared that the fish were discovered. In this space was a covered garden seat in much disrepair, here one could sit and watch the pond and graceful fish. At the far end of the pond was an arched brickwork feature with a lion’s head in it. Carlotta and Carl bought a pump to place in the pond and the lion’s mouth poured water back into the pond through a water filter cleaning it and putting air into the water for the fish. It did not take long before the water was sparklingly clear. Carlotta and Carl put lights in the garden and it looked magical. Carl built a bicycle shed at the very bottom of the garden as they intended to go cycling by the river… but Carlotta being far from a young lady was rather nervous and, to be fair, her cycle did not have as much use as she had intended.

The first winter passed and to Carlotta and Carl’s joy, they saw that there were some new tiny, tiny baby goldfish. They cared for the fish and they grew and grew. They planted roses and put up bird feeders which attracted robins and blue tits – the garden also attracted butterflies and the pond attracted the most amazing dragon-flies, bright turquoise and red.

But then the trouble began …

The garden was very close to the river which was home to lots of Herons (large grey fishing birds with spear-like beaks). Now, because the water was so clear, as they flew past they could easily spot the brightly coloured goldfish … so they came .. and Carlotta and Carl lost most of the fish to the greedy heron. They were desperately sad and went to the fish specialists and asked what could be done to safeguard the pond. They were advised that if they hung CDs that would deter the herons as the light flashing, as they twirled, would distract the heron. So, confident in that, they put lots of strings with CDs around the garden and took some more fish back home only to discover, to their joy and delight, that there were some of the original fish left who had been so scared that they had stayed out of sight for many days. It is strange that some people say fish have a very short memory but I do not believe that to be true. It was at least two weeks before the surviving fish felt safe to surface.

Carl had made a spider-web arrangement of string attached to the edge of the garden with even more CDs hanging from that and all seemed well.

Then, one afternoon, Carlotta walked into the kitchen and saw a heron sitting on the fence between the first paved area and the pond area which it must have already visited – she ran at the heron and it shot back towards the pond, but now it was stuck under the string and could not get out unless it came towards her. What was she to do? The herons beak was sharp and long , well she just screamed for Carl, he was at the topmost room in the house – that was enough to terrify the heron and it spat out four fish that it had in its gullet.The poor fish were floundering around out of water. She did not know what to do, the heron was frightening and the fish were in front of him.Luckily Carl appeared then, having come down, and helped put the fish back in the pond . (Three, thankfully, lived but one, sadly, died and they found him floating on the water the next day). But right now they had a problem; they just did not know how to get the heron away, which by now had retreated and was cowering in the bike shed. The back gate opened inwards meaning it blocked the exits from the bike shed, so even if they opened the gate the heron would not be able to get out.Carl had an idea so got the pond net and put it over the herons head then pulled it safely out of the garden through the gate and it flew away.

Carl and Carlotta increased the number of CDs and string defences then restocked the pond.Having had more than a dozen fish, there were now only a few fish in the pond, but then a heron struck again this time bursting through the string web and taking what seemed all the fish even the ones that had previously been saved. Carlotta was desperately sad and said “If I cannot protect them then I cannot have fish in the pond at all” so they did not restock the pond this time.A few days later she suddenly spotted a solitary small goldfish which she recognised as one who had been born to the pond. She did not know what to do “I cannot leave this fish here totally alone and without a friend and when it has lost so many.I will just have to get it some friends”. At the aquarium there was a special offer of four for the price of two and so she was tempted and got two Goldfish and two Shubunkins all with beautiful white tails and fins. The lonely fish was so delighted to greet some new friends and they swam happily for a time. Until one morning she walked out to feed the fish only to see that a heron was looking to land – how could it possibly get through the string? It was going to try, though.What on earth was she to do ? Everything had failed to deter the heron.

She determined to visit Litrasaurus, whom she had been told was very learned and wise, to seek his help and advice. When Carl and Carlotta arrived he was very kind but understood that it was a very difficult problem so he summoned all his friends to see if they had any ideas on how to help, and guess what? It was Ariadne the spider (who could weave webs of strong golden thread) that came up with a bright idea as to how to solve the problem. If Fancy could fly her to the pond then she would weave a protective web above the pond that no heron could get through. So it was agreed and now Carl and Carlotta’s fish would be safe and able to enjoy a happy life in their own pond.