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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Smell (the sense of smell) (07/29/10)

TITLE: A Reeking, Servant Heart
By Carol Penhorwood
08/04/10


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I stepped into a plague from Egypt that morning. Standing at our window overlooking our pond that spanned two-thirds of an acre, I saw dead fish covering the water's surface. It looked as if the hand of God had been stretched out in wrath. “The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water.” Exodus 7:21 (NIV) Granted, our water had not turned to blood, but I felt I was getting a taste of Bible history.

For several weeks we had been experiencing unusually hot, humid weather with temperatures soaring into the high 90s, feeling as if we were entering steam baths each time we stepped out-of-doors.

“Pond turnover”, a term that I was unfamiliar with until reading an Ezine article by Braden Galbreath-O'Leary. According to O'Leary, pond turnover is a term used to describe the mixing of the stagnant, or 'stratified', waters in a pond. Stratification is an occurrence whereby the water separates into three distinct layers—like a layer cake—each with its own different temperature and dissolved oxygen levels. Pond turnover is when weather conditions favor the mixing of these layers. Organic matter like dead plants, fish, and leaves sink to and accumulate in the lowest level. Ultimately, toxic gas gets trapped at this lowest level, and is released all at once when the levels mix.

The released toxic gases poison the fish, causing a fish kill. Aerobic bacteria are given access to organic matter once locked at the bottom, quickly sucking all the oxygen out of the water and suffocating fish. The odor of the released gases fills the surrounding area with rancid odors. The lower level clouds the water, causing the pond to appear very dirty. Severe turnover can kill thousands of fish, and leave the property smelling like a month-old rotting egg.

Pond turnover. As the day wore on and the day's heat continued to rise, it became more and more obvious we would have to deal with this quickly or be run out of our suburban country neighborhood. Taking the afternoon off from work, my stout-hearted husband donned his straw hat for protection from the intensity of the sun and set off. Pushing off in our paddle boat, he diligently netted hundreds and hundreds of dead fish into garbage bags. The heat intense, the air pungent, his t-shirt soon soaked with his own sweat, he worked on for hours.

At frequent intervals he came in the house to re-hydrate and get out of the intense sun, reeking every step. With each trip my admiration grew. I didn't need this reminder that my husband just does what needs to be done—regardless. He has been my rock through all my health issues, steady, dependable, filling in the gaps when I could not function, always exhibiting a true servant heart.

“The secret of achievement is not to let what you're doing get to you before you get to it.” I guess it's true because my husband exemplified this anonymous quote that day.

I asked if he'd like to have fish for dinner that night. I think if he'd had a staff, I would have been turned into a serpent...another piece of history.


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This article has been read 522 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/05/10
This is really not about dead fish, but a poignant love story. I learned quite a bit while reading this, about pond turnover and true love. The last line showed a great sense of humour as well.
Mariane Holbrook08/09/10
Carol, I remember the day this happened to you and how your dh worked so hard to get rid of the smell. It was a lesson to me of responsibility, of faithfulness, of servanthood and yes, of love. It was hard on him but your love for him increased exponentially as each hour passed and each bag of dead fish was carried away. A dear, sweet story, my friend.
Virgil Youngblood 08/09/10
Every marriage has an aroma, and yours reflects a special blend of discarding the bad and retaining the good. A unique, pleasing fragrance exudes from your writing.
AnneRene' Capp 08/09/10
You are such a little stinka! But, must admit, so loved your offer of fish for dinner. :)

I have never heard of Pond Turnover and now that I know about it, never, ever wish to experience it. You had MY heart touched for your husband, and bleeding for him being out there in that heat with that horrendous odor. I even felt sorry for the dead fish.

I love the phrase:“The secret of achievement is not to let what you're doing get to you before you get to it.” This will definitely be added to my motivational skills in encouraging others.
Edy T Johnson 08/09/10
This is so good. You hook your reader with a bit of intrigue at the beginning; you school your readers to learning something we've never heard of before; you fill your whole net with an endearing love story; and you conclude with the perfect line. I love it!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/10/10
I was struck by the marriage romance painted here in plain language--not smelly at all, but perfumed with love in action.
Kate Oliver Webb08/10/10
Oh my, I so dislike hot, humid weather. And smelly dead things, like rotting fish. For that reason, I was very glad to reach the refreshing and light-hearted end to your wonderful story. What a guy your husband is! And it sounds like you really deserve each other. Great story of a great marriage with two giving and loving people.
Lollie Hofer 08/10/10
Great thoughts wrapped up in the actions of a great man. Well done. Good use of this week's topic.
Ruth Brown 08/11/10
Good story Carol. I remember reading about it on the porch.
You really do have a peach of a hubby. You two are a great match. Love, Ruth
Eliza Evans 06/26/11
I didn't look at the topic before I started reading. :) I live by one of those ponds, too. A little different but I can relate the "rotten egg" smell. We get it in the fall.
I could really picture this. I enjoyed the way you wrote it and it is a lovely tribute to your hubby.