At this time of year I am usually in frog mode. Now that might sound distinctly odd to some but there is nothing more thrilling than the triumphant return of Majorcan amphibians to our valley in Spring.
In the autumn our fickle frogs set off on long vacations, no doubt to sunnier climes, and with a heavy heart I accept that the discordant choir beneath my office window will cease for nigh on six months. Majorcan frogs, rather like the indigenous human population, like to be heard and emit a loud but melodious quack that resonates throughout the dark hills at dusk. In truth at night their raucous singing can be so loud that it’s almost impossible to hear the rasping of the cicadas or the ghostly single note cry of the scops owl.
A few years ago my German neighbour, normally a cheery and rational soul who pops by the valley when the urge takes him, told me that he was considering shooting the growing colony of frogs in my pond. He stormed across the courtyard early one morning, his eyes popping and weighed down with tiredness, and announced that he could no longer tolerate the incessant croaking of the frogs while he tried in vain to sleep. He took out an imaginary gun and aimed it at my small and smiling iridescent friends.
It astounded me that their dulcet tones had failed to soothe him into a deep slumber but then I have expat friends here that are driven to distraction by their neighbours’ cockerels, donkeys and dogs. We have so many creatures lurking in the long grasses on our terrain that I have become immune to their sound. Carlos, our cockerel, is usually trumpeting by four o’clock in the morning and the local dogs begin baying by dawn but I usually sleep through it all. By contrast the roar of an engine, rasp of a motorbike or human cry are far more likely to jolt me into consciousness.
But let me return to the sober issue of my frogs. In December it was decided that the pond needed an overhaul. It had become a wild aqua jungle of reeds and moss under which lurked two viperine snakes that had decimated our community of goldfish. We drained out the water, carried the disgruntled serpents to another location and cleared away the towering reeds. Having restored order and settled in a new array of pond plants and lilies we waited patiently for the Spring when our beloved frogs would return.
March came and went without a quack or a splash but just as I was beginning to despair, pathetically begging my local nursery owner to find me some ranitas or huevos de rana
frogspawn our first frog appeared. He’s an extremely vocal, chirpy chap and in the last week appears to have been communicating vocally with a few nearby chums. It’s a far cry from the teeming population we attracted before but I shall be patient and wait. If the lyrics of the song are to be believed, ‘a frog he would a-wooing go’ and so I’m hopeful that a big-eyed and glistening señora will hop by sooner or later to keep him company.
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