A Pool of Their Own

The time has come.

My tadpoles have started to turn into tiny frogs, staring mournfully out through the convex glass of their prison home and dreaming of freedom. first they grew useless looking, skeletal appendages beneath their tails, which slowly grew stronger and began to be utilised for extra propulsion, and then front legs exploded out of their heads (I’m not joking; it’s really weird). Despite giving them a gently-sloping stone platform they can sit on above water level, and procuring a Tupperware box full of aphids to feed them from the garden of one of my students (that family will never view me as a sensible, normal adult again), to my absolute horror I somehow lost two more frogs last week. I was perplexed by this, and mortified, and even a little upset (I know they’re just frogs, but they’re my frogs!)

I had secretly been harbouring plans to keep a few, but realised the impracticality of this. Firstly, having to regularly hunt down live prey is not really my thing (daphnia seem to be of no interest to them, unfortunately). Before finding the aphids, I spent an uneasy afternoon desperately searching the flat for ants, tiny flies or other insect life small enough to feed to them, contemplating such things as moths and bumble bees before shaking my head and muttering “too big, too big” under my breath. Nothing could be found (probably a good thing?!) and I realised that I was going a bit mad. Plus there was the death thing. I really didn’t want to  be inadvertently responsible for any more tiny corpses disappearing into the willing maws of their siblings.

Literally climbing the (glass) walls. Normal frogs aren’t supposed to be able to do this, so they must be desperate.

Tom headed to Dorset for a man-weekend with one of his man-friends (it’s not quite Vegas is it, but as long as they’re happy) so I took the opportunity to visit my parents, and release my froglets somewhere suitably pastoral. I got the train South, and bought myself a small bottle of champagne for the journey, to toast their freedom. I actually bumped into an old school friend at Charing Cross, so we travelled down together and kept the froglets company (I’m not sure if he was more perturbed by the fact that I was transporting baby frogs in Tupperware or that I was planning on drinking champagne on a train, on my own, in the afternoon… but anyway, I thought it was a good send-off).

There’s a beautiful and ancient pond near where my parents live, that I actually released the last few I managed to keep alive into (tadpoles must view my flat as being like a set from Battle Royale). It’s very overgrown, and I had to tiptoe between briars and across spongy moss to reach the edge, but it’s a small, lily-pad filled oasis. It’s also surrounded by ancient blackthorn, hazel and oak trees, and has a lovely view across rolling Sussex countryside (not that the froglets will care, I know, they’ll be preoccupied with trying not to be eaten, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside).

Nice bit uh prime reel estate. Jus perfic fur frogs.

I used to go out hacking in my youth with one of our neighbours and her daughter, and we would often ride past this particular pond. She told me that a body was found in it years ago, preserved in the same way as the Lindow Man and Woman, but I never knew if she was telling me the truth. I’m less suspicious of the story that prehistoric weapons and tools were found in it though, which suggests that it may have been around since the Bronze Age. The log where Kevin Costner addressed his merry men is also nearby, but again I don’t think the frogs will care.

© Jade Everingham

Yes, I climbed over a five bar gate in a mini skirt and high heels. What else was I supposed to do?!

A last farewell.

As soon as I dipped the box into the water the remaining tadpoles disappeared into the shadowy depths, and the froglets breast-stroked their way to the edge to hide in the grass.

Here’s me looking sad to say goodbye.

I’ve been trying to think of something else I can keep in my fish-bowl that I’ll be able to keep alive, other than pond-snails (which aren’t the most exciting…) any ideas?

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10 thoughts on “A Pool of Their Own

  1. It must have been a satisfying feeling to release them, and many of them wouldn’t have made it to that stage if you hadn’t first collected them, as the mortality rate when they are really young is very high. We once saw a dragoinfly lavae eating a tadpole in our local pool.

    • Thanks – I’m just hoping some of them will make it to adulthood. Dragonfly larvae are terrifyingly predatory. They still make me feel a little uneasy whenever I see them… probably due to having maternal instincts for tadpoles! Jx

  2. Your post took me back almost 60 years…………………..As a child, on our grand-parents’ farm-land, there was a large clay-pit, no longer used, which filled-up every year with rainwater, and then slowly emptied through evaporation. There were two pools, one very small which dried quickly, and one which had never really completely dried before the rains returned, and no-one really knew how deep it was.

    My brother and I were warned never to go near, but curiosity meant that one year we ventured down to the area, and discovered the small pond was almost completely-full of frogspawn. As it was a hot summer (weren’t they all?) it was evident that in a short period they would die from lack of water, so we decided to rescue them by transporting the jelly-masses by bucket-load and tipping them into the larger pond. This proved to take several days for two young boys to achieve. Parents or grand-parents could not be advised of the project because of the prohibition on approaching the steep sides of the clay-pit, so we had to provide a number of plausible un-truths as to what we were doing each day!

    Suffice to say, the project was completed successfully and we may have been responsible for the large number of frogs in the area later that year! Fortunately there were no houses in the immediate vicinity, and we were able to inform parents and grand-parents of the project. We felt good,about it (I think justifiably!), and had something to write in the inevitable essay which had to be prepared on our return to school..

    • Sounds like a fantastic summer, and a lot more worthwhile than playing computer games indoors, as most of my London students seem to do in their holidays. I found an old ‘toad-box’ by my parents’ garden pond yesterday, that I must have built (judging by the quality of construction!) many, many years ago. Now covered in moss and looking like a part of the landscape, I couldn’t help peering underneath it. No toads sadly, but a nice reminder of my own childhood! Jx

  3. Thank you – you’ve raised a smile this morning – the effort you’ve taken to look after the tadpoles, and to find them a congenial place to live, AND you did it in high heels with champagne! That’s style

    • I like to think of it as a practise run for having children, though I’m not planning on keeping them in a glass bowl and feeding them aphids. They can bloody well catch their own insects. Jx

  4. Thanks for stopping by my new, little blog. This is an inspiringly beautiful spot-wow! I love your tadpole/frog story; I will soon be including a little story of our misadventure of rescuing an abandoned turtle. 😉 If you need ideas for your fish bowl, do they sell betta fish in GB? They need little water, little space, don’t make a smelly mess as quickly as goldfish do and are better off without company. They come in beautiful colors!

    • Can’t wait to read about your turtle rescue! Unfortunately betta fish (we call them siamese fighting fish over here) require tropical fish tank equipment like filters, air pumps etc, otherwise that would have been perfect. Jx

      • Oops! Sorry, I figured you had a small system in your bowl for your tadpoles and frogs…didn’t notice. I know the betta does better with a 3 gallon or so tank, but your bowl looked fairly big by the pic. They also enjoy plants in their water, and of course, water treatment. 🙂 I have a friend who keeps one in a 2 gallon vase with plants and a small system. Well, perhaps a hermit crab? I can’t remember how much space they need, but I know they like plenty of “house” changes! lol Regards, Ruth

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