Month: January 2023

Frog rescue

I’ve come across some strange finds over the years when dog walking each morning. There are the typical, if depressing, bottles, cans, cigarette butts, food wrappers etc, and for which I’ve ensured there’s always a bag in my pocket so these offensive items can be removed, and dumped into the relevant disposal bin at home. But sitting in the middle of the road one day last week was a bright green juvenile green and gold frog. Bizarre.

Given the absence of any obvious suitable water habitat close by, how this frog came to be there will forever remain a mystery. His (or her) life was destined to be extremely short though if he remained on the road, so I picked him up and carried him home. Froggy didn’t even try to resist so maybe he was already regretting the adventure that had led him to this spot.

Green and golds are not uncommon in our area, despite being now extremely rare in most parts of the state. To the point where they are now a listed species. Until the campaign to stop failed timber company Gunns Ltd building its pulp mill, most people in the area were unaware the green and golds that happily hopped around their properties and basked in the sunshine, were in fact a threatened species. Such is the depressing lack of knowledge about our vulnerable wildlife among so many Tasmanians, or concern and care by successive governments.

Several years ago I’d researched green and golds for an article so I knew about their vulnerable status, and we’d got excited one summer a couple of years ago when we counted up to 12 of these frogs living in an old bathtub we keep topped up with water for birds and various visiting wildlife to drink from. By last summer though they had dispersed, as they do, not to be seen again until their growling mating calls are heard in spring. Disappointingly though there was no sign of frog life in our bathtub last summer, and there’d been none this year either thus far.

So young GG was on his own when I popped him into his new and rather murky watery home, unsure if he would stay, or even if he was actually healthy. At least I thought he was on his own.

He kept very much to himself, and if we did happen to spot him basking on the edge he quickly dived in before we got too close. We noticed his colour was darkening though. Perhaps that was something to do with the water . . . ? Then a few days ago we noticed there were two green and golds sunning themselves on the edge. One was significantly larger. Had it been there all winter unbeknownst to us? Or was it a recent arrival?

Mature Green & Gold frog (Lituria raniformis)

So now there are two, and while the juvenile is still rather timid, the older one is quite laid back and sits on the side quite unconcerned when we walk past. Hopefully their tenancy will last the summer, but after that who knows? Where these frogs go during the cooler autumn and winter months still remains something of a mystery so far as I’m aware. We’re just enjoying having them visit.

Feasting on fruit

‘Tis the season of harvesting summer fruits. The raspberries continue to produce, and will do so for at least another month given the autumn fruiting variety hasn’t got underway properly yet. Picking them occupies around an hour of my morning, and I can see another round of jam-making may be required as the freezer is already well stocked. Jam-making is my man’s domain though. I rarely eat it.

As we’re also keeping an eye on a friend’s place at the moment, harvesting the bounty from their apricot tree is also on the agenda. It’s a well-established tree and it’s loaded, but it’s a case of beating the birds who must also be keeping an eye on every apricot, plum and peach tree in the district that’s not netted, ready to swoop in for a feed the moment fruit looks ripe enough.

We suspect the possums have also paid this property a visit, and if they go away to tell all their mates trees can be stripped of fruit overnight. Rather anxious that doesn’t happen so we’re picking apricots that still aren’t quite ripe. They’re swiftly achieving the juicy state though while laid out on baking trays on our kitchen counter. As of yesterday more half-ripe apricots are also spread out on paper on the spare bed!

Next it will be a case of beating the birds and possums to the greengages, as these plums are ripening fast too. I’m convinced birds are attuned to the berry and stoned fruit season, and once they’ve had their fill of one variety, they move on to the next. Certainly they seem to have become bored with boysenberries. I’d given up on picking ours believing it a waste of time because pesky blackbirds, starlings and magpies were nicking so many, but when I walked past the vines last week I was surprised how quickly I managed to fill a container. So I reckon the birds have moved on. Apricots are now flavour of the month, and next it will be greengages – unless we can beat them to it!

A Long Goodbye

Scattering the ashes of a friend who died suddenly and unexpectedly around 15 months ago wasn’t the preferred way to start a new year, but that’s how Stuart’s wife and a few of his friends chose to do it on the day that would have been his birthday – 2nd January.

Blame COVID for the long delay. Julie wasn’t able to travel from her teaching post at Indonesia’s international school due to travel restrictions in both countries, so she had to wait until she retired at the end of last year before she could pack up and return to Tasmania. She and Stuart had lived overseas for well over a decade and while he’d come back and was doing up the house they still had here, Julie wasn’t quite ready to finish working. Then COVID hit.

Stuart and Julie were neighbours at our previous property, and among the few that came along to the Happy Hour I decided to organise before the second Christmas we’d lived in the area. I pinched the idea from my mother, who started her pre-Christmas Happy Hours after my father died. Over the years these occasions had grown from a few neighbours along the street coming along for drinks and nibbles, into a regular fixture on the calendar that also included family and other friends.

I borrowed the idea because I didn’t like not knowing our neighbours in our semi-rural suburb, and my working life at the time didn’t leave time for socialising. Over the years our pre-Christmas Happy Hours also became something of a fixture and it was definitely a great way to get to know one’s neighbours!

Being of a similar age to us Stuart and Julie became good friends as well as neighbours, and another friend Marilyn and I kicked off our European trip staying with them in Portugal. An extended holiday courtesy of long service leave from our respective jobs, and what a memorable trip it was.

So it was great to reconnect with Stuart again when he came back to Tasmania and follow the progress on his house renovations, as well as hear all about his intrepid travels around the world. He was also a lover of vintage cars, which he regarded more as an investment and only to be driven on high days and holidays – and definitely not when it was raining!

Between adventure travelling around the globe, representing Australia in tai chi championships, renovating his house, landscaping his garden, and developing his talent as an artist, painting Tasmania’s wilderness, Stuart packed more into his life than most of us do. His final journey, at his request, was down the Tamar, in sight of the Batman Bridge. Vale Stuart. We will miss him.