I am not mocking I am mourning the deaths of well, yesterday I fished 8 dead frogs from our garden pond. Who knows how many more will be found in its watery maw. When we renovated the pond last summer, we temporarily parked around 45 of them in a water butt. 45 little heads all pushing up out of the water at once, wondering what the hell was going on.
And now we’re pushing our heads together wondering what the hell happened or maybe is still happening. This constitutes our biggest frog loss crisis since a passing heron swooped down and into the frog pond for a lengthy breakfast. Hitchcockian bird violence ensued.
In the midst of this latest incident, Mrs Champion (she never ever ever calls herself that) wondered about the winter ice sheet the pond saw - once a few months ago... That was precisely a few months ago. That would constitute a bit of a slow motion minor mass extinction… Anyhow, everyone who knows these frogs knows they can stay underwater for way more than a long weekend. And they look like they all died at once. It wasn’t the ice. They’ve survived the ice before. And then there’s the climate crisis. Or the dead leaf debris. We don’t cover the pond in winter in case the cat jumps through the cover and can’t get out.
Instinctively, all eyes turn to Daphne, the cat. Daphne sits for sure wondering whether only sleeping and eating will boost her weight from 10lbs to 100lbs or so, Cheetah sized so that she can get some respect around here. But while Daphne can be querulously adept at backyard predation, the bell on her collar has combined to 1. Alert most wild life that Daphne is on her way and 2. Maximised her lethargy for hunting anyhow. A year ago you might have seen her hanging off the back of a fox crossing through the garden. Now it’s a sideways look with a “Why don’t you do something about it.” as she sits by the kitchen door with no intention of harrying that fox. out there I know how she feels. If there’s no taste of blood, what’s the point right?
It’s not that Daphne hasn’t brought screeching frogs into the kitchen on previous - between bell occasions. The times she’s shed her collar while cavorting with her cat pals in out neighbours gardens. This is such a primary pain in the ass, rescuing frogs and getting them back to the pond. Gloves and great thanks that Chinese takeaways in England eschew the cutesy recyclable cardboard take out containers in favour of solid plastic boxes. And such another pain in the ass paying another £5 to Pets at Home or whatever they are called for a replacement collar. Maybe they should consider a collar subscription service. But these frogs, death bloat aside, blood coagulated in the bellies bursting their veins, are all in one piece. That is not the Daphne modus operandi.
While writing this I am thinking it is a little tricky to hear Thelonious Monster’s Rainy Days and Mondays from the California Clam Chowder LP. Following a gap at the end of The Oasis Song, at about 4.10, there it is. Unannounced. It’s a pretty epic rendition of The Carpenters classic. And talking of extinction I’ve been to Karen’s grave when it was in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cypress in Orange County. Not her final resting place though, since in 2003 she moved to Westlake Village.
Meanwhile, I will be up the garden on frog watch. Let’s hope I don’t see anything. While you can listen to this. One Minute You Won't Get Back.
Previous Ancient Champion column, Magic Says How Much? here⇒