How often do we find ourselves trying to make the most impossible result possible, trying to control everyone and everything around us? I know I am guilty of this but was unaware of it until I met Mr. Beady Eyes, the name I gave my graceful flying friend. Thinking that we can control others, especially Mother Nature, can be defined, among other things, as “insanity.” Losing control means that something or someone is “no longer subject to containment.” My seasonal visitor and I obviously have much in common.

I have become very fond of the slimy swimmers who reside in our pond. I feed them daily as if there were not enough insects in Georgia to keep them fat and happy. I have worried for their survival through water-less summers and have thrown Christmas trees into its depths to provide protection for the breeding fish. It was on one of those visits that I was suddenly introduced to Mr. Beady Eyes. The great blue heron was standing on the water’s edge, and as I came to scatter fish treats we suddenly found each other almost face-to-face. I screamed in surprise as he took flight with amazingly wide wings, barely clearing the tree tops, flying away in fear at this scary interruption.

He would come for his bi-yearly visits, which as of late, have become more often. I had just procured 20 prized and very large goldfish which I added to the pond. I have had goldfish every year of my life until very recently. This bird, reaching up to five feet or more and resembling a crane, would return several times a year to feed upon the blue gill that also inhabited the pond, that last year were too small — smart guy. This is the beginning of my insane saga of learning things the hard way.

Fearing for the life of my new pets, I installed a large plastic owl on the railing overlooking my lagoon. I was told it was the best way to scare off hawks and herons. Every day I would check on my precarious beauties. I would count my living goldies daily as I walked the perimeter of our pond, assuming the plastic addition to my railing was keeping them safe. One day, heavy winds tossed the fake owl into the water, or my son decided to play with it, and now there was no more protection for my wet residents. It was then that I noticed the fish were disappearing at alarming rates.

The next day I saw Mr. Beady Eyes perched on the pond railing again, right next to the plastic owl, calm, beautiful and satiated. I ran through the rain sporting my bright red pajamas, slipping and sliding in the mud, my arms waving wildly, yelling at this beautiful but avaricious hunter perched above my pond, in an attempt to scare it away before he could gobble up the remainder of my large, prized goldfish. I had to laugh out loud at myself afterwards as this wasn’t the first time that this beautiful feathered predator had come to feast on my other water dwellers. Why was I surprised?

I notified my husband and told him that he had to chase away “that darn bird” fast. In his kind and quiet demeanor, he said “yes, dear” and promptly returned with another plastic owl and a big smile. This time he attached another fake predator onto a piece of wood that loomed out over the pond, attaching pieces of foil to dangle in the wind. I felt so much better, confident that this would keep Mr. Beady Eyes away from now on. Much to my dismay, I found him several more times calmly trolling and gobbling up my goldfish. At this point, I spied only four of the original 20, desperately huddled under cover of a large, leftover maple leaf. Their little tails stuck out so I knew the flying predators could still see them, too. It was then that I came up with a brilliant idea: give them something to hide under. So I blew up a pool raft, which deflated 24 hours later, and threw it into the pond. I’m not sure if my idea was a little too late or the shiny silver leaf disguised as a raft scared the fish into deeper waters.

Once again I spotted that “darn bird” inspecting the remnants of the survivors from his last visit, perched right next to the decoy owl as if it were in his way. Again, I ran outside in the rain, waving my arms and yelling, shocked by his betrayal. He flew off with a whoosh, as his five foot or more wing span lifted him far away from me. I stopped dead in my tracks, still trying to remain upright in the slippery mud, as he took to flight to get away from me. What a beautiful sight and sound. His eyes were bright yellow and he looked at me with such clarity — truly I was the crazy one! It was then that I realized he was right.

Why I thought I could control Mother Nature and the feeding habit of a large wild bird, now just makes me giggle. I learned several things from Mr. Beady Eyes, but most importantly I learned that no matter how often I think I have any control over anything, especially God’s wild creatures, I am not nor will ever be over Mother Nature. I was overly optimistic and somewhat delusional about housing gloriously-colored goldfish in the wide open with hawks, owls and Mr. Beady Eyes living about. My husband still has that smile on his face while that “darn bird” has all of my goldfish in his belly.

{p class=”Body” align=”left”}Roman Betty Schaaf is a volunteer, a writer, a sojourner and a self-described wellness addict. Betty Schaaf’s email is bettyannschaaf@gmail.com