The temperature touched 97°F today and still no rain. The well water is more difficult to reach, twenty-five feet down and a chore to pull up by hand. This morning, in one of the buckets, swimming feebly but valiantly, was a froglet. This year’s froglets, we see them about now and then, are small frog size. This one was still a thumbnail, no bigger than when it crawled out of the stream eight weeks ago. The tiny thing must have fallen into the well in July and survived without growing, developing, or eating, but hanging onto existence in the wet darkness, and to the slender thread of hope of rescue.

It sat in my hand, luxuriating in my blood heat and had to be pushed off onto a warm stone beneath the plum tree among a pile of other stones, weeds and embryonic trees. I daren’t put it among the flowerpots in front of the house because of the snakes. It’s not certain it will be safe among the stones around the plum tree, I don’t suppose it will gain enough weight to survive the winter, and but I know it will do its damnedest.

Life spark shines

in the darkest places

strength keeps the weakest limbs

paddling in the stream

until the last breath.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

39 thoughts on “Survival”

    1. Thanks. I love those little critters. We’ve pulled them out of all sorts of holes, round the well, round the mains pipe, inside the run-off from the guttering, picked them off the road…

      1. There’s some in the little pond here under the lilies that float. Cats are the enemy here even thought I rate cats highly. Nature is nature. At least that’s better than human’s indifference to nature. I’ve never used the word ‘critters’ but it works. Neat ~ George

      2. I have cats and I appreciate them both but one of them is a relentless hunter and here she is in direct competition with the wildlife. There are only so many voles to go around after all. Some of them we can save and release more or less intact, others she kills and eats, others she plays with, flipping them about when their spine is broken or she’s bitten half their head off. Wild animals don’t do that and I hate it. We’ve made cats into things that are neither wild nor tame.

      3. Was it when they got domesticated that cats started to play with prey? That’s interesting. I always figured that wild cats did the same but I have no proof to back that up and I know assumptions – especially mine – aren’t always right. Do you think it might be that the toys the pet cats get given to play with has caused them to play with prey rather than make a clean kill?
        There was a thing about cats and the Black Death on the news a while back. Throughout Europe the Black Death was killing millions all over the place. Rats were carrying the disease. At this time because of the Catholic inquisition across the continent and especially so in England domestic cats were nearly wiped out because they were associated with witches and witchcraft. It took a while but there came a time when the people worked out that those who had somehow managed to keep their cats weren’t getting the Black Death because in those homes the cats had killed all the rats, hence no disease. It was only then that people started keeping cats again. The Pope had got this one well and truly wrong.

      4. Tell me something the Pope got right!
        I read Desmond Morris on cats years ago and what’s stuck in my mind is that we have infantilised cats. Wild adult cats never play for example. Animals ‘play’ with their young to teach them, and when young ones play together it’s like role play. Foxes apparently give their cubs moles to play with and practice hunting on. Cats are silent (unless they’re really pissed off) except with people. Some cats like our Trixie won’t shut up but it’s not natural. It’s imitation. They know that we speak to one another and to them, so to get attention they imitate speech.
        They have a hunting instinct still because they are tame wild animals rather than domesticated animals (like dogs). They enjoy hunting, but since they aren’t hungry they prolong the pleasure by pretending the dying mouse is still active. We’ve replaced necessity with pleasure, like we have for much of what we do. It seems like a logical theory to me.

      5. That makes sense. A tame wildcat v a domesticated dog. I can see that, but still like cats. I can’t help it. Having said that I’ve never had a cat, always dogs. I miss the last one badly. He was my best mate since being a kid. Annoyingly – for a border collie – he wanted to fight anything/anyone who came near me.

      6. I like cats too. They’re quite a lot like people. Dogs are often sad. People make them do tricks, drag them round on leads, stop them going near other dogs, keep them alone when they’re pack animals. On the other hand, three dogs together is a pack and you can expect trouble—mob mentality. Ours is a rescue dog from a refuge in Spain and he’s mad as a hatter. Couldn’t have two like that, but he’s very special and you couldn’t teach him tricks even if you tried. It’s an accepted fact that Galgos are untrainable. Take it or leave it.

      7. We had two Briard’s one time. I can confirm that they were a pack. 100% loyal but no way would they let another dog or person for that matter near us. They only lived less than 10 years, both ending up with hip issues. 10 good years though.

      8. That’s another sad thing about dogs. We’ve bred short lifespans into so many breeds. And other health issues. I can’t imagine what it must have been like living with TWO Briards!!!! They were incredibly popular here round about the beginning of the 1980s and by the time I came to France the craze had passed and the SPA was full of abandoned Briards. People trying to keep them in Paris apartments and realising that they might be trendy but they are just too big and unsuitable. Fashion.

      9. Do the French police in the south still use Briards? I go to France a few times each year and remember as a kid that’s what a French bloke told us, although I’ve never seen one with the police over there.

      10. I’ve never seen them except as pets. They’re from the Brie region so I don’t know why they’d use them in the south. The police use mostly Malinois or Malinois x German shepherd. The Malinois (I’m not sure but I think they’re Belgian sheepdogs) don’t have a good reputation. Too keen for a fight with anything, the people they’re supposed to be helping if there’s nothing else.

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