Monday, July 17, 2006

Life or Death Under the Bike Path

If you recall where the story left off last Friday, the fish had become wedged upside down between some rocks and was flipping itself into oblivion....

I launched into emergency mode without stopping to realize that in spite of its frustrated emotional state, the death of the fish was probably not imminent. Its gills were well underwater, and its panicked flailing was at least serving to keep the exposed part of its body wet.

I called Lindi to come quickly. She struggled over the unfriendly, pointy rocks in floppy inadequate sandals. Just as she approached I hollered for her to grab the camera, which was back at her starting point. In response to her annoyed expression, I yelled “Never mind! Come here! Hurry!”

(Imagine thinking of taking pictures at a time like that.)

What I so urgently wanted from Lindi remains unclear, as the task at hand was clearly a one-person job. Perhaps an audience was my need – a witness to the potentially heroic events that were about to unfold. I closed both hands around the fish’s tail and pulled up, but my hands slipped right up off its end. This was lucky for the fish since its fins, scales, and gills were all pointed upward and would no doubt have caught against the jaggedy surfaces on the way up. (Ow!) Though there was hardly any room around the poor beast, I managed to slide my hands down alongside of its body till I could close them around its tapered front end, and pressing its flipping tail between my forearms the best I could, I pulled it out.

Mr. Fishie seemed to realize I was trying to help, because he calmed down enough to allow me to execute this deft (if I may say so myself) action. Once I’d extracted him, he let me cradle him like a baby -- or at least, like a totally exhausted fish -- lying along my forearm while I held him around the tail with the other hand. Then he began to flip a little, so I held him around the front end as well, which was tricky because he was too big to get my hand around. I now realized he was slimed with blood (as was I, thanks a lot) and missing several patches of scales from hours, maybe days, of struggling against the rough rocks.

After consulting with Lindi we selected a placid, deep-ish pool on the downstream side of the dam as a suitable re-entry site and I tossed him in. He remained floating there motionless, facing our direction from underwater for several minutes -- perhaps too stunned to move, perhaps stupefied at his sudden change in fortune, perhaps taking a moment of silence to say “Thank you, Miss Kate, Goddess of the Fishes.”

I left feeling elated about enhancing the quality of someone’s life, but at the same time ever-so-slightly hypocritical, knowing that in another setting I was capable of sticking a fork into a family member of this very same creature. But let us not dwell on the macabre.

“Shut. Up!” I ordered my annoying mind. Can I not bask in the glory of the heroic rescuer for five minutes without my pesky conscience interfering? I am not a vegetarian! I’ve already been down that road and arrived at solid, meat-eating conclusions. So leave me alone!

The fish was now free. But this is by no means the end of the story. Check back for further developments in my new role as Fish Goddess. You have never heard the like, I promise you.


Post a Comment

<< Home