In which we consider the return of Noah’s flood to the Charente and tackle a hoard of teeny tiny toads in the wine press……….
The weather has achieved Biblical proportions today here in sunny France. After an impressive build up over the last few weeks and months, with a few minor monsoons here, a mini tornado there, we finally arrive at the first weekend of the official French summer – it’s August ; the whole world is on holiday – only to have a succession of storms and downpours that would have given Monsieur Noah himself a bit of a nervous turn. The heavens have crashed and rolled their drums with enough volume to satisfy the wildest heavy-rocker and finally opened in Hollywood blockbuster fashion to empty their contents on the hillside, in the fabric showroom and the courtyard, managing in passing to strip a few more of the last remaining and admirably tenacious plums and figs from the fruit trees and remove another swathe of gravel from the driveway. Mightily impressive stuff from the comfort of our almost waterproof dwelling – I shudder to think how this sort of thing, magnified a hundred times, must appear to people in those areas of the world where it is a regular occurrence and a house is a thing you only see in your dreams. One of the fascinating side effects of our current extraordinary weather patterns, is the arrival on the scene of an army of teeny, tiny toads. These little fellows have congregated in the shelter of the old wine press, in the little courtyard adjacent to the house where we sit to eat in the evenings. Our teeny toads are no more than an inch long and are perfectly formed jumping beans, with long frog legs and a rather interesting copper coloured skin. Delightful little chaps indeed when seen individually from a safe distance, but when viewed at close quarters as you’re about to give the dogs their evening bowl of food, appear numerous enough to classify as a small and worryingly agile plague.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and Mr H boldly decided that they needed to move on; the wine press was no place to set up a teeny toad colony, what would they eat for one thing? Never mind about that, I retorted as calmly as possible in the circumstances, how high can the little devils jump and will they end up in my trouser turn-ups hitching a lift to the boutique or the bathroom? Action was called for and with due ingenuity Mr H placed a roofing tile in the recess of the wine press to act as an escape ramp for the teeny toads. We watched in amazement as we chewed our pizzas – another desperate measure we indulge in on rare occasions – as the teeny toads hopped and jumped about until one of them at last discovered the ramp and made his way up to chance his luck in the big wide world beyond. No sooner had one made his bid for freedom than another followed and several more after that until only a few of the teeny toad elders were left sitting at the bottom of the ramp shaking their heads and bemoaning the impetuosity of the young hotheads who had gone before them.
How did they do that? What instinct led them to follow each other out, how did they know? I have absolutely no idea but despite the Biblical weather or perhaps because of it, I do know that nature is a most remarkable thing……. PS At last check-in they appear to have all disappeared in search of pastures new…….. the Teeny Toads have moved on! PPSWe apologise for the lack of Teeny Toad photos, they hopped away at top speed whenever I appeared with the camera! ALL PHOTOS © JANE MORLEY