A walk in the sunshine alone. Up a steep old hay strewn pass, skirting the outline of an overgrown gorge. Sun dapples the lively hopping-stone stream now far below. I experience the thrill of a fear that no one would hear me scream (because we all know that there is a high possibility that a serial killer may also be taking his afternoon stroll here today). Yeah right!
It is warmer that I expect and so I pause to sip water from my bota bag when I hear a twig crack in the wood nearby. I freeze for a second. I see nothing so quickly and quietly replace the cork in my bag and walk on. A deer perhaps. Or a bird taking flight.
I suppose it’s that feeling of being alone; yet not, that nature offers up that puts things into perspective. A sort of wide open ability to think in a way that feels like it’s out loud, philosophise about the human condition. It gives me the space I need but rarely take.
I’m deep inside my head when things start to move and slither beneath me. My peripheral vision swarms with larvae like pulsations. Skin on skin the frogs writhe in motion in their orgies. They moan and croak, leap higher and kick to get at the passive females at the bottom of the pyramid. There is nothing romantic going on here. They are everywhere.
The amphibious noise is all pervading and echos all across the marshy clearing. Did they travel far, I muse. The more I focus; the more frogs I see. Mating, smothering, raping then slumped in jelatinous heaps. They leap around my feet, fearless and unashamed. Here for one reason and one reason only.
Something has squashed a friendship group of four, maybe five up ahead, I see their popped eyeballs and entrails splayed in all directions between their legs. There’s something else attached that looks like a pool of bubbling spawn being eaten by flies but that may also be innards.
A heron has been giving me side eye from a nearby tree, he now glides upwards with a frog or frogs in its beak. A severed body part drops and sinks beneath the waterline. I realise there are frogs crossing my path, even using me as a path. I keep moving. The odd one makes contact and looks stunned as it gets an accidental kick into touch.
I wish now I had filmed the sound more than anything. It was so loud. I have never before experienced frog song or the co-incidence of stumbling upon a mating pond in peak activity. It feels primal and special to be here, if not slightly voyeuristic.
I hike on, marvelling at nature. There is a brutality not lost on me in the midst of this bizarre scene.
I return to my car. As I pack up and get ready to leave, I notice something on my windscreen, wedged under the wipers.
As I get closer I see that it is a note. A filthy paper bag. Upon closer inspection, the remnants of what looks like a fairly freshly mutilated frog are also wedged with the words “stay away you fucking bitch or I will rip you” scrawled in marker pen underneath.
I drive home fast not stopping to remove my mascot.
Nowhere is safe in this jungle.