Okay, picture this: It's two days before my son's wedding. Two days before my entire Yankee family - including my mother - will visit my home for the first time. I've bragged about my rural Virginia house, how it overlooks a deep pond that mirrors the trees and sky.
Already, I've scrubbed every inch of my house, even painted the front porch. Now, do I want them to see how I really live? Nuh-uh. I want them to see perfection. To see the little sister who's done good.
As I stand back to behold my flawless domain, I look over at the pond. Ah, yes. The pond. The reflective pond that is now thickly carpeted with a kind of scum called water meal. It's a flat, luminous-green mat, like a putting green.
Months ago, with this project in mind, I bought an entire bolt of wedding-veil netting. Here's what I planned: On a windy day, when the scum has blown over to one small section of the pond, we could stretch the netting across one end of the pond and scoop all that gunk up and out of the water.
How hard could this be?
Today, the groom is available to help. However, there's not a breath of wind. Maybe I should just forget about this. Accept the pond for what it is.
Then, I imagine my mother inspecting the pond on Saturday, sadly shaking her head. Saying, "Too bad about that swamp over there..."
I see no choice but to gather up every extension cord in the house, stringing them together so I can place our two oscillating fans next to the water: Instant wind! I'm a genius. We wait several minutes, but the scum doesn't budge. Hm. I re-adjust one of the fans. It plunges head first into the water. Well, forget that. I pull the plugs.
Jackson takes one end of the netting and ties it to the canoe. I balance on the steep bank and unroll the bolt. Jack tries a tricky maneuver and flips the canoe over.
Just as I'm imagining my distraught phone call to his fiancée, Jack pops up out of the water, laughing, his face and glasses covered in green slime.
After some struggling, we're pulling the netting and gathering up an impressive and heavy load of scum. All right!
But wait, the water behind the netting is still that nasty green. Turns out that our particular variety of pond scum is so fine that most of it just slips right through the net.
We haul our catch of scum and assorted wildlife to the edge of the pond. It stinks. It's slimy. It has made absolutely no difference in the pond.
Jack insists that we comb through our harvest to rescue the little animals. I leave that to him. I've had it.
Well, Saturday came and went. Great reunion, wonderful wedding, huge success all around.
My mother called today. "Gee," she said, "too bad about that swamp...right next to your house and all..."