Traverse City Record-Eagle

Feature Columnists

April 5, 2014

Life As I Know It: Seafood buffet returns to Elk Rapids

A few summers ago we installed a nice little pond in our backyard garden. The simple little waterscape wasn’t big enough to change our property tax status but it was big enough to support its own food chain.

Deep inside our HGTV-worthy tableau, among the flagstone paths and the wood chips was a sculpted kidney bean shaped and bathtub sized pond with a little copper fountain that bubbled. Inside of the pond was some sort of lily plant, several pounds of gravel, a few Petoskey stones and most importantly, about two dozen small goldfish.

They weren’t anything fancy. They were just garden variety pet store goldfish that went into the pond, small specimens that doubled their size by the end of that summer.

That is, those that survived.

Only 14 of 20 goldfish that were stocked in the closest backyard pond to beautiful downtown Elk Rapids home survived the late season tragedy that summer.

And those 14, if they could have spoken, would surely have told of the beautiful autumn day when the skies darkened and a Great Blue Heron swooped down and helped itself to 10 of their brethren.

Then a really funny thing happened; we told our neighbors.

The tale of how the heron enjoyed an afternoon “school lunch” in our yard was conveyed to our neighbors and we quickly learned that our quaint backyard garden pond stocked with goldfish was not the only stop on the Great Blue Herons late season tub crawl.

No, this graceful bird, gangly long legs, saber like long beak and sprawling wingspan had hit the lotto. No longer would he need to waste his days lurking along the shadows of the local village river, wild streams, creeks, lakes or ponds. Like a modern warfare drone, silent and undetected flight over the west side of Elk Rapids was all it was going to take now.

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