For the record: it's currently 42 degrees outside at 3.00 in the afternoon, and climbing. That's hot! And it's just day 1 of the four days above 40 we are promised this week.
My plan for today was to put on my old white cotton dress, which weighs little more than about two handkerchiefs, and sit quietly in my study at home, which is still pretty cool in the old downstairs brick part of the house. I had just opened up email when it turned out today had to be the day that we emptied the fishpond. There is a little leak, and the wonderful Bill was coming by this afternoon to start the repairs. This meant the pond had to be emptied and dried out by 5 this afternoon. The drying part was not a problem, in the sun, but the emptying was horrible. It is quite a complex system, and the process involved moving most of the rocks and plants to make sure no fish were left behind as we emptied the filter and ferried buckets of water around the garden. Which may at least mean the plants have a chance of surviving.
It was really more than a two-person job, so this meant persuading the resident teenager, who was all showered and changed (Obama t-shirt and cherry red jeans bought second hand for $5), and ready to go out, to change into old shorts and spend half an hour ferrying water. He did do it, but he said only because I made him feel guilty. Which I guess was fair enough...
There's not much wind, so while it's hot, at least there is not that soul-destroying northerly wind we sometimes get in summer, but every now and then, a little breeze would float by, and the citriodora would drop, as if on purpose, a little group of leaves it had decided it could do without. A bit like the whomping willow in whatever Harry Potter film it is, when one leaf drifts slowly to signal the beginning of autumn, and then the whole tree gives itself a shake, and they're all gone. Giving a whole new meaning to the word "deciduous".
Anyway, we scooped up bucketloads and ice-cream container loads of water and all the regular muck that's always at the bottom of the pond, at the same time as trying to catch fish and move them into areas we weren't emptying. (It is quite an elaborate system, with different levels.) Some of the perch would leap out of the net as soon as we caught them: remarkably frisky, and suddenly a whole lot bigger than they normally look. When the water was ankle deep, I was standing scooping out water, and they would come between my feet and nip me. Cute! We lost only one that got caught out in the shallow hot water when we had gone inside because we were starting to feel faint.
It was a horrible, job, really: very hard on the back, and very hot. But I kept thinking: this is the pond, and these are the fish that gave me such comfort when I was convalescing, so it was not that hard to keep shovelling. And all but one poor fish are now safe in cool deep ponds. It's hard to imagine it ever raining enough to fill up the pond again when it's fixed, though: I think we will probably have to buy some water.
Now I'm back in my white dress, about to read an ARC draft, translate the last stretch of Havelok for our reading group tomorrow, then reading another chapter of a PhD thesis. Haven't even put the fan on yet...
P.S. Aaargghh! Weather pixie has put her bikini on!!