It is Sunday evening. Tomorrow I go back to work. It almost feels as I have been off only for a long weekend. Not enough time!
Outside it is a balmy and pleasant 24 degrees. It has just passed 2130 hrs, and I have been sitting outside communing with nature, a cup of chai latte in one hand, and in the other a steadily diminishing piece of Kathy’s Christmas cake. I now have three frog guests and as I sat they all arrived one by one from their daytime hiding places. The first came out from behind the lavender pots, jumped up to the pool edge and began hunting insects. Shortly afterwards the second appeared from under the mint plant and joined in. The third took longer, and finally cautiously emerged from the bathroom floor drain outlet, looking around carefully before chasing some unseen prey under the barbecue. They seem pretty used to my presence now and ignore me as they go about their predatory insectivorous business. Once I am confident they are completely happy with my company I shall try to get some good close-up photos. In the meantime I just spend time with them every evening.
The two new frogs came from the Council yard, I collected them Friday morning. Carl came round for his usual early morning coffee (he has started back at work already) and told me about them. He had found them in an old rubbish bin. One of them had startled him by giving off a rather frightening shriek. He had thought some wild cat or similar creature had been trapped in the bin and was very wary of looking in case he got a faceful of fur and claws. But it was only a frog. I have searched my book and cannot positively ID the noisy one. I can confirm that it makes an eerie shriek, as it did so shortly after I released it at home. Very startling. From the pictures it could be a Motorbike Frog, though it does not sound like one, or perhaps a Bleating Froglet though it does not quite match my picture. I am pretty sure I have two different species out there, anyway. I am hoping that the tadpoles that are growing so rapidly in the pond may prove to be Pobblebonks, or Banjo frogs. I heard some adults in the area from which I collected them. I daresay it will not be too long before we find out. They are eating me out of weed and fishfood and growing at an amazing rate. They also ate all the baby Gambusia. That is an ironic turn-up. One for the books. The adult Gambusia are gone too, I noticed today. I am not sure if the tadpoles or the frogs ate them. I am now becoming concerned in case the frogs try eating the tadpoles. No doubt I can spare a few if they do – the pool is well stocked. possibly overstocked. If they are eating them, I hope they don’t get them all.
Today was a pleasant day. It started off very warm in the morning and by 1130 it was in the mid thirties. The tadpoles were all gulping air at the surface of the frog pond, suggesting oxygen depletion in the heat. I set up one of my aquarium pumps in the pond in order to aerate the water and remove some of the crap. That seemed to work. I then took a wee nap until two, by which time it had rained, a breeze had sprung up, and the temperature was down to the high twenties. Much more amenable. But the rain continued, so I went back to bed with a book.
Saturday had been much hotter. Though I had gone to bed at twelve, I arose at 0430 and I made an early morning attack on the kitchen, completely cleaning and sanitising it and rearranging it so that the microwave was in a better location, making it easier to access and also freeing up a little more of my limited bench space. (This in anticipation of some fun culinary activity I plan for later on with the new mincer/sausage-making attachment I have ordered for my Kenwood Chef, funded by the Christmas bonus voucher from the Shire. I also had a chat on Skype with Su. Once the day got really hot, I retired to the lounge with the air-con on and read or watched DVDs.
Friday had been the fun day of the week. After collecting the frogs from the Yard, I packed an insulated bag with ice water, lime juice and a can of Mother, packed the camera and lenses, put on my gear and fired up the silver lady. I was wearing a new visor and the very first thing I noticed was that it was so clean and unmarred that it was as if it was not there. Good visibility is so important. I wondered whether the old visor was actually unsafe? Not there seemed to be a theme for the rest of the day. First As I rode into the hot southern wind, I was glad indeed for my summer jacket. Though armoured, and made from robust kevlar fabric, it is like wearing a string vest. I could feel the breeze cooling the perspiration from my entire torso as if the jacket was not there. Very pleasant on such a day. Especially when stopped which is when a normal jacket quickly becomes uncomfortable. The matching summer gloves give the same degree of protection and comfort in the heat.
I rode down the Greenhills road then some of the old gravel roads at the back of Broomehill, singing “’52 Vincent Black Lightning” and keeping an eye out for black cockatoos (not there) and good locations in which to do a bit of hollowlogging. I found some very likely looking reserves with some very likely looking hollow logs to explore. But if anything occupied those logs it was not there. Not a snake, nor skink nor spider did I see all day. Even raking over leaves and shifting debris, I found nothing. The only wildlife I photographed all day was a clutch of emus. Clutch? Gaggle? Flock?
By four o’clock I realised I was hungry and that I had not eaten so far all day. I rode in to Kojonup to visit the bakery. They have some reasonable – though not, in my opinion, excellent – pies. By that time of day there was little choice left from the usually extensive range of pies available. In fact it came down to a choice between a pasty and a Tandoori Beef pie. I chose the latter and paid over five dollars for it. I took it outside and sat at the kerbside table to eat it. I am sorry to say that it did not live up to its name in any way. It was neither tandoori, nor beef. The pie was filled with a sweetish but otherwise flavourless gravy that contained no evidence of the presence of beef despite straining it through my teeth in search of a lump of something. Usually I find a few particles of mince at least, but in this pie -nothing there. I have got used to the Australian penchant for throwing a tablespoon of mince into a pie and calling it beef, but this was unacceptable.
I really miss those great N Z pies we used to get from the Cambodian bakery. They always contained beef or mince in proper proportion, and were appropriately named. In this instance, I resolved to pass on my misgivings. I returned to the shop and told the young serving girl that I thought that I had just eaten the most execrable pie I have had in a month of Sundays. She smiled sweetly and said “Thanks! I will pass it on to the boss”.
“No”, I said. “I mean it is the worst pie I have had for ages. There was no meat in it and it did not taste of tandoori. It was just a sweet gravy pie. Please tell the boss that. Have a great day!
Since I was in Kojonup, I thought I would head north and buy a bottle of Limoncello from the boutique distillery up the highway. Unfortunately when I got there, a sign said “Closed until 9 January”. Not there. Damn. Still. A good reason to ride that way again.
Onto Robinson road to Woodanilling and on the way a couple more stops at roadside reserves where hollow logs could be seen beckoning. Still nothing there. Not my day for creature photography.
Home by 6. By 7 I was hungry again so I cooked a duck breast and some potatoes and peas, washed it down with a gin and tonic or two, and watched comedy DVDs until late.