#72 I, Isabel Scheherazade say Reader! Come look. You’re Going to Love This! Right. Just Open those Eyes and be like a stranger in this place you’ve lived your whole life.

by storytellerisabel

Last winter Mom and I were skating at the quarry.  I skate ahead; then Mom drags me back with “Isabel!” You know the rest.

She’s kneeling on the ice and peering down. I crouch beside her and ask, What’s the big deal, Mom-lady? Better be good. I called her Mom-lady, just teasing, when she asks me to do something I haven’t planned on doing, like skating back over ice I’d just skated over.

Mom points, and I squeal, yes, SQUEALED. A fish! Is it alive? It looked like a stuffed specimen in a science exhibit.

It’s alive, and I think it’s doing okay. See? Mom points, and I see that the fins are quivering. It’s a sunnie.

What do you mean, “okay?” Isn’t it sort of tricky, with the ice covering the water? Like, no air or something?

Well, when the temperature goes down, chemical changes happen in a fish. Its metabolism slows. Since Mom was a science writer, she answers nature questions in full paragraphs. I settle into my crouch and get comfortable.

Mom continues.  What’s happening here is that this sunfish has slowed down to conserve energy. That way it uses less oxygen.

But, Mom, I knock on the ice, which I remember now as being really solid and clear as glass, how’s it get oxygen if there’s all this thick ice?

Good question! Mom puts her eyes right down at the ice level. Look down below him. See those bubbles?  I nod. That’s a spring, and it’s pumping oxygen into the moving water. 

I get my face right down next to Mom’s. Sort of like the bubbler in our fish tank?

Exactly. Also, there’s no snow on this ice, and lots of light is getting through for the plants. So, how’s that help, Isabel?  Remember?

Plants pump out oxygen. I was feeling very smart. Mom has–had–that effect on everyone.

Then she tells me about the winter she was working at Muskego Lake as part of a crew that had the job of opening holes in the ice and installing aerators.

Aerators?  At the time I hadn’t heard that word, but I take a guess. Something to pump air, Mom? Into a LAKE? Why?

That winter the ice was covered with heavy snow.  Light couldn’t get to the plants. They couldn’t produce oxygen. To make matters worse, when the plants died, they decayed. The decaying was using up even more oxygen. Mom chuckles. We had to make sure the fish didn’t all die off, or else there wouldn’t be anything for the fishermen to catch in the spring!  

It worked?

Like magic.  The fish went from just barely alive to lively and in the swim–so to speak.

Mom loved to make puns.