I fell in love with frogs and toads so many decades ago, before frozen peas and fish fingers, before fridges and freezers before . . . Well, you get the message; I have been intrigued and delighted with frogs for longer than I can remember apparently.
Every garden they owned my parents had allowed them and my garden now positively encourages them. They need slugs and snails to give their golden eyes an extra gleam - slugs and snails I have .Of course the frogs have to share them with the birds but I have to confess there’s plenty for all with some change left over!
I began collecting inanimate frogs and toads in my early 20s and have over the years accumulated them in every colour, shape,pose and material from silver and glass to felt and yarn. From so many diverse cultures and ages. I have art deco ones and neutskys, modern ones, pristine and gleaming, old cracked well weathered ones, toys, garden ornaments, pencil holders, salt and pepper pots and so on and so forth. A Steiff and even an Annalee.
For a while, after we moved into our new abode, most of them languished in the darkness of packing boxes but last year they were given their own space and came into the light again. It was fun greeting old friends rediscovering a few I had forgotten - how could I forget!
This is a crazy collection for one who hates housework as much as I do; pick any of these up at your peril if you do not want dusty fingers.
There are some truly beautiful frogs there on my walls, some unusual and curious ones, but there are none to beat the reality in my garden.
I have been beating back the wilderness this summer out there. Nearly three years of neglect had made it so. I need to turn my garden into something more suitable for advancing years and increasing immobility, while I still have the chance. So the labour intensive vegetables and fruit are going, going and almost gone now, although it cost me a pang or two. Cottage garden perennials, wild flowers and bulbs will reign supreme. No more regular watering required.
Now I don't mind the slugs and snails so much.
Now the birds are a beautiful pain but not a nuisance.
However, over the years of neglect the creatures from my small, fenced off, wild garden at the end have crept out, along with the wildness. They definitely do not approve of the’ great beating back’. It doesn't matter how often I apologise, how often I explain it won’t be barren but lushly filled with new delights and really they should know I don’t do tidy gardens, no it doesn’t matter, the frogs have been complaining long and loud.
When I was very small I thought frogs only croaked in the evening, at each other. I was grown before I heard the first croak of warning, when I stood too close to one.
I heard a battle cry a few years ago when Younger Cat stalked a huge specimen down the path - he needn’t have worried she was not going to touch such a shrill voice.
This summer they are positively yelling at me as I disturb their piles of weeds and prunings, clear the undergrowth, disturb their larders.
I feel a bit bad about it.
A couple of weeks ago backing myself against a wall in order to prune the clematis rapidly overtaking the roof I felt a chill on my leg, a moving chill at that. Pulling up my trousers out leapt a large frog. He had sought to escape me squashing him by climbing up - the wall, I guess he hoped, only to discover in his panic he had climbed my leg. His protest was as swift as was his escape.
A few days later in another part of the garden I was sitting, after a vigorous stint on the brambles, just meditating on the garden, when I was aware of being watched. He sat on the cleared earth under the wild climbing rose, watching me watching him. He blinked those wonderful golden eyes at me and I had a sudden thought,
No man could ever be as beautiful!
We stayed a long time in the peace of the garden, the frog and I.