Friday, August 15, 2008

CHRONICLES OF THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A GOLD FISH ...

Gold fish have always been part of the pet family, wether they live with us inside in an aquarium or outside in the wild in one of our ponds. I had several gold fish when I was a kid but do not recall what happened to them. I remember catching a 'mene' (tiny wild fish) that I brought back home and survived 2 years in a fish bowl in the kitchen, well fed with breadcrumbs by my mom. We now have several gold fish in our ponds. We once bought 6 of them at the pet shop for $1.99 and gave them a new home. Some died during winter, some others survived and multiplied themselves. We usually have a good population, black ones, multicolored ones, orange ones and even a few kois among them.

Earlier in the month, this particular gold fish started acting abnormal in the small pond, not swimming much and breathing very rapidly. As usual, here in the family, whenever an animal is not acting itself, we immediately go in the "emergency" state and do all that can be done to make it feel better. So, we took it out of the water, placed it in a bowl with fresh water and it seemed to be doing better, treating it with fish medicine. We returned it to the pond after a couple of days of quarantine and we thought he was fine...

Yesterday morning, unfortunately, we found it floating on the water between water lily leaves. Always a sad image to see an aquatic creature unable to swim or breathe under water. It was dead...

We were about to dispose of it the same way we do with dead birds or mice we find or other little creatures, we were going to burry it in our pet cemetary, under the big oak tree. But Ulysse had a flashback about Mexico... Our friend Jay, who has been spending his winters in the Yucatan for the past 20 years is a serious fisherman who does very artistic fish prints of his daily catches on natural fiber paper.

It is kinda strange, I know, taking a dead fish, covering it with paint and pressing paper on it to make a print. It is smelly and hard to handle. But believe it or not, it is a kind of art Japanese people have been doing for a long time. Gyotaku, 魚拓 (japanese from gyo "fish" + taku "rubbing") is a traditional form of japanese fish printing, dating from the mid 1800s, a form of nature printing used by fishermen to record their catches.

Ulysse and I did our printing outside and made several versions. It started raining, so we took all the prints inside to let them dry. Once dried up, we chose our favorite and painted a realistic eye on it. We really enjoyed doing this primitive kind of art. We had to act quickly and the results depended more on the interaction of fish with paper rather than on us, so the results were all quite different.

Now, Goldy rests in peace and is immortalized on a piece of paper framed on a special spot in my studio.

The end ...

2 comments:

Kim Mailhot said...

This is a sweet story Lulu ! What wonderful lessons about loving and appreciating nature you are teaching your son. He won't forget what happened to his fish, that's for sure !
Cheers,
Kim

Susan said...

I love this post. You will always remember the life of this little fish. Very nice memorial.