Two weeks ago, the chiller in my trout tank died. My baby trout, better known as fingerlings at this stage, can’t live unless the water temperature is between 50 and 55 degrees, so the death of the chiller created a crisis. Within an hour the water temperature had risen to 57 degrees. We started an ice brigade, but the ice, sealed in Ziploc bags was melting almost as fast as we could get it into the tank. The temperature dropped a degree, but then rose again. Next, the cafeteria donated frozen two liter bottles of water which they use to keep coolers, well……cool. The frozen bottles helped and the temperature dropped to 55 again. Panicky calls to my Trout in the Classroom coordinators did not yield a replacement chiller, so I ordered a new one from California . Then I started trying to figure out how I was going to keep my fishy babies alive until the new cooling unit arrived. Plans that ranged from taking the trout home in a small bucket and icing them every four hours to bringing in a drink cooler and rigging some hosing to run through it were discussed and abandoned. Finally it occurred to me that we had a bona-fide trout hatchery right in town. DUH! I called them and they were quick to agree to fish-sit for us until the classroom tank was cold again.
The babies, whose tank temperature was now perilously past their survival temperature, were gently spooned into a cooler with some ice bags and then loaded into the van for a sloshy ride to the hatchery. As I backed in to the basement door, I was met by Junior who was ready to perform trout CPR if necessary. Thirty three fingerlings found a pristine temporary home in the cool waters that rush through the basement of the hatchery. I could tell this was a far better thing that had happened to them than had ever happened before. A week later, the new chiller arrived and the trout, who were much fatter and happier than when I left them, came home. The students were overjoyed, the teacher was overjoyed and the fish were disappointed to be back in a smaller, glass walled home. They had forgotten what it felt like to have children staring at them. No longer our friendly swim-to-the-top-of-the-tank-to-say-hello-fish, they spent most of their first day hiding in the rocks. Finally, we tempted them back out with food, but they are warier than they were. Which, if you think about it, is probably a good thing considering they will be in danger of becoming lunch for a larger predator when we release them. So we’ll call this one a happy ending.
Second homecoming. Tip the Cat had become too romantically inclined. He was travelling out to the main road in search of a furry girl friend. The last time I caught him prancing back up the driveway, I knew his time of manhood and dangerous assignations needed to end. I scheduled an appointment with my vet friend who teaches at a community college. Tip would get his little operation for free, but it involved a lengthy stay. I made Joe take him so my darling boy wouldn’t associate me with his lengthy abandonment. There would be no one to rub his head and I was sure he would forget how much he loved it (and me.) Three days later, Tip was home, seated on my lap begging for a head rub. Happy ending number two. (Tip might feel a little differently)
Third homecoming. Scott was home for the prom. We didn’t see him much because it was a quick trip, and now that he’s back at Tech, the ghost of his happy soul is rattling around the house. It always feels that way when he leaves to go back to school, but in less than four weeks, he’ll be home for the summer. Then we’ll have happy ending number three.
Homecomings are better than sunny days!