The Fish House–The Place Where Dreams Come True

Marvin the Goldfish is like a Timex watch–he just keeps going and going and going…

His spirit I mean. The body itself is still in a sandwich baggy, buried deep in our freezer somewhere between the ground beef and the ice cream. That is, unless Eyegal got him mixed up with the frozen tilapia.

Final arrangements are incomplete, but ongoing. More on that shortly.

You may recall the readers who reached out to us in our time of Marvin-mourning with a very kind offer of a replacement goldfish. Yes, I know, it goes without saying that Marvin is irreplaceable, but it was still awfully nice of them.

happyfamily.jpgSo last Saturday, Eyegal and I ventured up North Memorial Parkway to search out Trevor and Jeannie Cole, owners of the the outdoor garden/nature store, “Across the Pond.” They were having an open house that day, so our timing was perfect. We were met at the door by Jeannie and her lovely daughter Olivia who exclaimed, “Welcome to Across the Pond, and Merry Christmas!”

Honestly, she had us at “Welcome.”

Jeannie is an assistant district attorney, but when she’s not busy busting up crack houses and seizing the assets of drug traffickers and turning them toward better uses, she works alongside her husband Trevor sells bird feeders (every shape and size imaginable), garden statues, pottery, landscaping materials, pond supplies and the world’s largest collection of Tilley Hats. Basically, anything you might need to set up your own private nature preserve.

Trevor is a native Englishman (“Across the Pond,” get it?) who has nurtured a livelong love of nature and parlayed it into a successful career as an expert in birding, water-gardening and fish-keeping. He and Jeannie have traveled all over the world, especially Asia, to improve their expertise in those industries and share it with the people of North Alabama.

Speaking of which, Trevor has been “stuck” here since 1992 with a lovely family and surrounded by many friends and customers who don’t understand the attraction of Grand Prix auto racing and “football” played without helmets and shoulder pads.

The poor bloke. At least he has Fox Soccer Channel.

They showed us around the store and then took us into The Fish House. You’ll never guess what we found there:


Marvin never got that big. These are more his size:


As I stared at tank after tank of beautiful, pond-quality goldfish, I began to imagine that maybe Marvin was someplace like this, swimming among all those other goldfish “who have gone on before,” munching on fortified fish flakes forever and forever…

My reverie was interrupted when Trevor and Jeannie told us about their plan to laminate my Huntsville Times column and place it, along with a picture of his “parents,” in The Fish House as a memorial of sorts and a reminder to potential customers of how owning goldfish can be among life’s more enriching experiences.

Eyegal and I were thrilled beyond words. We knew that was just the way Marvin would have wanted it.

This is what I think will happen: People will come to The Fish House. Oh yes, people will come, Trevor and Jeannie.

They will drive up Memorial Parkway “for reasons that they can’t even fathom.” They’ll arrive at Across the Pond, “innocent as children, longing for the past.”

“Of course, we don’t mind if you look around,” you’ll say.

Then they’ll read Marvin’s moving memorial, gaze upon the thousands of goldfish swimming joyfully in those high-tech tanks and “they’ll feel as if they’ve been dipped in magic waters. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.”

Goldfish–they “remind us of all that once was good and could be good again.”

Ah, good times.

Thanks to Jeannie, Trevor, Olivia and all the good folks at “Across the Pond” for your kindness and hospitality. Needless to say (but I will anyway), if you’re near Huntsville or Florence and find yourself with a hankering for the simple pleasures of outdoor life, then Jeannie and Trevor are the go-to people for all your birding, ponding and statuary needs.

As for Marvin’s remains, Number Two Son, the one who extended Marvin’s life by one week with his mad YMCA rescue skillz, apparently feels that a simple “burial at sea” is not dignified enough and has other plans.

You might recall that he’s the one with a special knack for making friends with law enforcement officers from various jurisdictions. In fact, just this past weekend he made another special friend in the tiny hamlet of Piperton, Tennessee.

So not surprisingly, the plan involves dark clothes, black face paint, cover of darkness and is most likely illegal.

If this goes down, I’ll let you know the details, including whether or not I bailed him out of jail.

When I think about it, having a friend in the district attorney’s office might not be a bad thing.

  1. Eyegal

    Loved your comments. We really did have a wonderful time at Across the Pond…plan to take visiting relatives back there at Christmas time. I think the little ones will love all the fish plus the birds and creepy crawlers that they have there. The Coles are wonderful people!

    I was struck by Trevor’s comment about goldfish being real pets. I hadn’t really thought about it, but we’ve always viewed them as such. They are real …not just something to flush after watching for a bit. We’ve always given them lots of attention. I think that pet ownership is important in teaching the value of all life.

    I’m proud that it seems we have passed on this respect for life (at least for creatures, not always siblings). A few months ago, while Marvin was still struggling along, Number Two passed some girls with two very small goldfish, which had been used in a lesson illustration, on the way to the restroom at church. Their instructions were to flush them, but Number Two intervened with a cry of “No goldfish will die today!”

    Number Two brought those orphans home, and Number One took them back to Tuscaloosa with him. Eventually, one did die but the other will be joining us for Christmas. I’m glad.

    Being up at Across the Pond reminded me again of how beautiful they are…the goldfish and all the creatures. I don’t know, Mike, on that return trip, I may just bring one of those little beauties home with me!

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Uh oh…here we go again.

  3. Stoogelover

    Makes me plumb proud to know you, even if it is a cyber friendship across the nation. Sounds like an interesting couple to visit on a weekend, not to mention she’s about the prettiest A.D.A I’ve ever seen!! πŸ™‚

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    True, that. But if you’re a bad guy, you don’t want to mess with her.

    But you’re not–you’re just a relatively harmless Stoogelover with a psychopuppy. Your problem is not with D.A.’s but with animal control.

  5. Laurie

    So now they’ll have two articles to laminate and post. πŸ™‚

  6. Mike the Eyeguy

    Yeah, I think this one’s going up too, plus they linked to the post on their website.

  7. Laurie

    plus they linked to the post on their website

    Hmm. I’m seeing a business opportunity here. You could do business reviews. Except you’d go in cognito and ignore the mean businesses and only write about the nice ones. Receiving an Eyeguy Review would be like receiving five stars in the Michelin Guide. Only nicer. And since nobody’s ever seen a photo of you, they’d have no idea who you were — the only way they could get a review would be to be nice to everybody.

    Think how you could change the world. πŸ™‚

  8. Mike the Eyeguy

    Good eye, Laurie. I could rate them by number of blinks, a 5-blinker being the best.

  9. mmlace

    Wait, wait, that’ll never work!

    They WILL know who you are!

    I mean, haven’t they all already seen your passport photo???


  10. Mike the Eyeguy

    It’s funny you should bring that up.

    Here’s how egotistical writers can sometimes be. Sometimes I catch people looking at me at restaurants, or even better, Barnes and Noble, and I wonder if they recognize me from my picture in the newspaper. I wonder if they’re wondering if maybe I’m, you know, somebody.

    Here’s what they’re actually thinking: Gee, I wonder if that poor sap knows he’s got a big piece of food stuck in his beard.

    And by the way, my “terrorist passport” picture was replaced with a half-way decent one in February–much to the relief of Eyegal.

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