My backyard oasis escape is a place of life, nature, joy and happiness. To truly grasp how this beautiful, peaceful Koi Pond came to be, I must tell a story. This is one that involves creative freedom, self-reflection, failure and in the end a sense of love, accomplishment and overall joy.
As we all know life was dramatically altered during the previous 2+ years due to a worldwide pandemic. With that came many changes in how we all spend our time. During 2020 Americans spent nearly 10 waking hours a day at home, compared to less than eight hours a day in 2019 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With increased free time came new challenges, and for this creative, sports-loving artist it meant trying to find something to fill that massive hole in my life. With no sports, no art shows, no festivals and or fairs I was simply going stir crazy. I was working from home; I was tired of the same old reruns on TV. Tiger King got old quickly. I was completely at a loss; I had spent basically my whole entire adult life going into an office five days a week. I needed an escape.
With my fiancé Ellie on Zoom calls and my then 8-year-old stepdaughter in virtual school I found myself spending almost every waking minute outside. With this time, as I stared off into nature. I kept asking myself for more, more and more. That’s what we do as humans, or maybe that’s just me?
My first thought was to call Barb Cram. As many of you know Barb, now deceased, was a Falls Church resident who had become sick before dying. Fewer and fewer phone calls between us were exchanged, and emails basically came to a halt. With her passing in 2020 it left a massive hole in my life. I had lost a great mentor. I simply had no creative outlets. It was work, sleep, depression, anger and then more depressing news after news.
One day as I was sitting on my deck, daydreaming, aka pouting, it finally hit me as I was reminiscing on happier and better times. It was in those moments I spent creating art that had brought me the most joy. It had all finally come together; Barb was always talking about her garden as we worked on art shows.
I wasn’t the stereotypical landscaper or animal lover. I played sports, I made art, I was a frat boy who spent his 20s partying. How would someone like me get into building a pond and watching nature grow? I didn’t know the first thing about plants, animals or how to create an ecosystem.
But off I went headfirst into the deep end. I joined Facebook groups, I YouTubed hours of videos. I called local aquatic stores. As my sketches progressed, they all centered around one theme: the all-mighty waterfall. The waterfall is used to circulate water that helps filter out debris and turn the Nitrites into Nitrates.
I was able to source local rocks, I found water plants on eBay, I ordered a liner, pump, waterfall box and skimmer at halfoffponds.com. I was able to build an entire pond for around $2,000. (The average cost according to fixr.com is $5,000 – $20,000 and as high as $70,000 with full landscaping and concrete pours).
With the pond build finished it was time to find our new animals. Believe it or not Ebay is a popular destination for Koi Fish. Sites such as nextdaykoi.com offer overnight shipping. However, this was not an avenue we wanted to venture down. With the help of my fiance Ellie and my stepdaughter we found a great local store that had a surplus of amazing Koi fish. We masked up and ventured out to pick out the new members of our family.
Koi Fish can range from $5 to well over $10,000 depending on the type, colors and patterns. This is where the fun begins, as Koi grow, they start to really show off their colors and patterns. Koi can live as long as 30 years.
We have one Showa which can be a very expensive fish. They have white that begins at the nose, they will also contain patches of a reddish orange color and include black markings. There are many types of Koi, including American or Japanese bred.
It has been 2+ years years since we built the pond. The fish have more than doubled in size and are nearly 2.5 feet long. We have 3 beautiful healthy koi that I feed daily, once in the morning and once at night. The calming sounds of the water, watching them swim and grow is a daily reminder that nature and its animals can be a beautiful peaceful place.