“EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” went the noise outside my window. I tapped away at my computer keys; it barely registered.
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” it continued. Now it penetrated my consciousness. What is that noise? It sounds like a squeaky toy, or a balloon being let down very slowly.
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”. Nothing makes that noise. Nothing happy, anyway. I could hear the jingling of the bells on the collars of next door’s cats. Slowly, the cogs turned in my mind. Cats don’t play with squeaky toys. I leapt up and dashed downstairs, running to the back of the BBC van parked on our drive. The cats were there, staring at an unmoving frog. I chased them off; the frog remained, silent and unmoving. Oh dear, I thought, they’ve killed another one – Dave had already spotted them batting one around a few days before. Now he joined me outside, wondering what the commotion was. I was just contemplating how best to transport the unfortunate frog to the bin when Dave stopped me, pointing out it was still breathing. With no obvious injuries, it was hard to tell whether it was wounded or just traumatised. We decided to give it a chance to recover, and as Dave put an inch of water into a bucket, I scooped the frog up and into the dark, damp bucket. It shuffled about and resumed a more frog-like form. The bucket was moved to the kitchen to allow the frog to recuperate.
With no obvious water sources near by (and no hint about where the frog had come from), the question was, where should the frog go? The stream running through Highfields Park seemed an obvious spot – a nice shallow stream, with plenty of woodland and even other frogs. Plans were made for a release into the wild.
During our discussions, the frog had made a remarkable recovery. So remarkable, in fact, that it was now lurking in the corner of the kitchen, having leapt out of the bucket. I was suddenly very glad I’d put the bucket on the floor, not the table. However, this made its chances of a successful life in the park more likely, so with the frog loose in the kitchen, it suddenly became an urgent task to take it somewhere more hospitable. I lunged towards the frog, almost grabbing it, before it leapt from my grasp. It bounced off the patio doors, trying to escape. Every time I got near it, it sprang away, until finally! Success. It was back in the bucket. Sadly, I hadn’t really considered the fact that the frog was palpably capable of escaping the bucket, which it promptly did. Back to square one.
By this time, Dave had stopped laughing long enough to pick up his camera. Help? Dave? Why would he do that when he could film the whole rescue? He asked me to name my unwilling rescue-ee. Mr Frog was settled on. (The film’s here, if you’ve got 90 seconds spare).
I spotted the kitchen compost caddy, and realised that, deeper than the bucket, and with a lid, it would make a perfect frog-carrying receptable. Its contents were hastily dumped in the bin, and with trepidation I approached Mr Frog. I expected resistance, but Mr Frog, perhaps understanding my altruism, graciously accepted being picked up. Only when I got him over the bucket did he try to escape, leading to a more forceful descent into the bucket than I’d anticipated. The lid was on! We were on our way!
Living near Highfields Park, I know its streams and paths fairly well: I’ve walked Mavis the dog there; I’ve run round the lake; flown a kite on the field; and walked to and from various jobs or courses on campus over the past few years. Soon enough, I was crouching by a small footbridge over the trickling stream, trying to encourage the frog from his comfortable compost bin home.
After a slow start, he made it onto the mud, and then into the stream. I left him submerged in the water, his eyes and nose protruding, as he enjoyed the water flowing gently past, and contemplated the insect life he might feast on later.