You might occasionally accuse me of anthropomorphism, because of the whimsical posts I compose on occasion, but I really have no such illusions. I know that animals are driven by instinct and although I am aware they can learn, I don’t really believe they are capable of abstract thought. I do know from experience that a dog can use logic to solve simple dog problems. I cannot even pretend to understand what is going on in a frog’s head. I enjoy the opportunity to try.
The last few nights watching the frogs catching fish, it occurred to me that they were quite content to pounce upon whatever moved in front of them. By stocking the pond with small Gambusia it seemed that maybe I had increased the odds that at any one time whatever moved would be a fish rather than a tadpole. Frogs are patient. They will sit and wait as long as necessary, leaping again and again, until their little bellies are filled. I am guessing that not every pounce ends in a catch but I did note the other night that Eric did a lot more pouncing than usual. More often, and over a longer duration. Either he was less successful at catching something, or his prey was so much smaller that he needed to catch more. I conducted another torchlight census, and concluded that at least five tadpoles were still there. The smaller fish were much harder to spot and even more so to count. I figured we could probably do with More.
After work this evening I headed round to Police Pools and caught another batch of small fry to restock the pond. When I was done the pond was positively teeming with tiny fish. I hoped the tadpoles would get a feed, and the frogs too. It was the lovely olive-green Fluffy whose turn it was to fish by the time I took my pre-bedtime chai latte out to drink under the stars. She must have caught her fill already, because shortly after I sat down to watch she retired under the flower pots. As if by arrangement Gollum appeared then on the edge of the pool, and began to poise himself for a leap. I watched him for a while and I could see his eyes following movements in the water. I saw him reposition himself several times before he pounced – very quickly – in and out again. It was impossible to tell if he had caught anything, which I took as a good sign. If he had a taddie, it would have been a huge struggling mouthful so, if anything at all, he must have caught the little sacrificial fish. I was excited to think my cunning plan Just Might Work.
Then there was an unexpected surprise event that prompted me to come back in and write this entry instead of hopping straight into bed.
I felt a tug on my trouser leg and looked down to find Fluffy crawling up to my lap. I held out my hand and she stepped straight onto it, settling her cold little bum into the palm of my hand, folding her arms under her chin and laying her head on the ball of my thumb. She just sat there resting and staring at me. I moved around a bit, adjusting my position for comfort and held her up in front of my face. She stared impassively at me as frogs do. I wondered what she was thinking, pondering whether she actually had thoughts at all, as I understand them. It is moments like these that make nature so bloody exciting. After a while holding my hand out in an awkward position for her comfort became uncomfortable to me. I nudged her tail end, and pushed her onto my chest. She promptly settled back down. We sat for quite a while in amicable silence. Maybe she might have stayed there all night had I let her. Perhaps the warmth was what she liked. It was a cooler night than usual. I realised it was getting late, and that I should get to sleep. I put Fluffy down, came in to rinse my cup and decided I had to write this little episode up before I retired. It is probably totally meaningless, but I like to think it shows some kind of recognition and developing trust.