It happens every year at this time. Bug-eyed little darlings hopping and waddling their fat shiny bodies towards the water and – sex. Lots of it. In human terms it would be called something rather naughty, in frog terms it is merely ‘the mating ritual.’
I like frogs – as long as they give me plenty of warning of their presence. If I’m plucking out the odd weed and they suddenly leap-up in front of me then that’s a whole new ball game. Then, I’m having a heart attack and backing off to a safe distance. But, I do like them. In fact, I’ve even written the script for a ‘froggy’ children’s book. Done nothing with it, obviously.
So, for the past week or so I have skirted the pond on my way to the greenhouse etc. with great stealth, hoping to catch the first arrivals unaware. They feel the vibration of approaching footsteps and, like Nemo’s Nautilus, dive . . . dive . . . dive. Yesterday I saw the first arrivals, already in a tower-block stance with the female somewhere in the heaving pile.
This year there is a slight problem.
The pond is now twenty-six years old and during this time our little fish shoal has diminished to just one remaining orf. He is the size of a small dolphin. He has never had a name – until now. He is Solo, for obvious reasons.
Solo is not going to last much longer. His once perfect carrot-shaped, bright orange form is bent this way and that and he spends much of his time flat-out at the top of the water, so much so that on two occasions, both when Richard had toddled off to see his mother, I texted him to say, ‘Come home in the light you need to bury the fish, he’s dead.’ Richard, obedient as ever, has arrived home in the light, sought the spade from the shed and grabbed the net. Moments later he has replaced the spade in the shed, returned the net, and informed me that, ‘Solo isn’t dead.’ If there’s a part going for a bent oaf in one of those costume dramas or similar perhaps we could send him to work because he’s a bloody good actor!
I should say that despite his ‘bent’ and ‘dead’ impressions he’s a happy-ish fish, sometimes taking to rather exhausting laps of the pond, and floating up to watch me rearranging the odd rock or two.
But, this is the problem. These sex-mad grab-anything-that-moves frogs are going to rape the poor lad. They have, in the past, grabbed onto the face of a fish and performed their sexual acts with the poor fish pinned down beneath their pulsing bodies. Solo will not live through this kind of behaviour. He’s a game old boy but this, I fear, is a little too much at his age?
A couple of months ago he also survived a near squashing.
My grandson, Jake, was bending over the pond, pointing at him, when his darling sister, Grace, came up behind him and with two hands slapped hard to Jake’s buttocks pushed him in.
Richard instantly grabbed Jake and hauled him out.
So much mud and debris had been stirred-up that we couldn’t tell if Solo had survived or not. Fortunately, he had.
Jake was a mess. Duck weed and other stuff (?) stuck to him and of course he was crying. I whisked him into the shower and made him stay there until his goose-flesh had disappeared and he was at last beginning to see the funny side of it – no mean feat I’ll tell you. Then, I dressed him in a pair of my leggings and a jumper. He soon recovered – such is life, and the remedial effects of chocolate is amazing. Mind, it was kinda worrying because the leggings almost fit him. I mean, he’s ten. I can only hope that he is growing fast and that I am not shrinking fast?
And that is that. The frogs are returning in their droves and we must now be on ‘frog-on-the-face-of-Solo watch. Have you ever tried unhooking a frog off a fish’s face? No, I thought not.
Some people find it hard to believe that this is my life. Trust me – it is.
Between starting this post and finishing it I have popped up the garden to check on Solo. He is still ‘frog-free,’ but the first small heap of frog spawn has appeared. This might be the first year that most of the tadpoles/froglets survive. Solo is too old to bother eating the tadpoles and now that the chucks are no longer present the baby frogs will make it safely from the pond, across the lawn, and into the damp shrubbery – so, again – something positive comes from the negative!
Take care x