There was a whirling growl and grumble across the echo chamber of the Bog this week as Róisín and I strolled out in the Spring sunshine, trying to avoid the strings of dead frogs scattered across the lane.
Flattened frogs, dark green, spotted, outstretched limbs, arms and legs with tiny fingers, big hooded eyes. Or they lay on their backs, as if on a rack, pinned for dissection, pale yellow, bulbous bellies, burst, blood and guts tangled with loose lane gravel. I think, occasionally, one or two of them must die of fright as they sat upright, eyes closed, motionless, statuesque, but dead.
I tend to keep my eyes on the road these days as I am on crutches and the lane is full of dips, subsidence, pot holes (it is a little like walking in the crazy cottage of my fairground youth) so it was Róisín who noticed the slurping and bubbling of the pooled water in the drain or shuk of the ditch.
The dank dark water was covered with a green blue frog spawn and frogs were bubbling beneath and multiplying. They were everywhere, clambering over each other, slippery, big, slimy, small and slithery. Ribbit, ribbit. We watched entranced. They were gross but sublimely beautiful.
“The noise is amazing,” said Róisín
“I think that’s some kind of agricultural machine in the distance,” I responded.
“I don’t think so, listen.”
The whirling rumble actually sounded like a small helicopter or thresher but it wasn’t. It was the millions of frogs spawning across the bog. Snippets of ribbit, ribbit flying on the air, tumbling through the bog holes, rising and lowering, leavening the earth, falling away as we walked higher out of the bog, me trying to dodge their dead or leaping bodies on my sticks. It was amazing. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. I hope Róisín, who sadly left the next day to live and work in London as part of the current swarm of emigration, hops as high and soars like those ribbits.
When Roisín told me she was going to London, I found myself struggling with a mix of emotions. Delight that she had an interesting, well paid job, sad at her departure, envy at her going to live in the exciting home city of my youth where I fell in love (a fair few times), learned my politics, and sprouted my strong stubby wings which I felt were now clipped right back with age and jade. She is the new season, I am the old, I thought. Then, last night, as I sat on the bench by the kitchen door, watching the fire of the pink evening sky glide through the grey clouds, I thought, now I am free as a bird, well, maybe I can’t fly but I can hop away, like the frogs…ribbit ribbit ribbit!