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The Scrivener: It's A Cruel World

“Amidst the trials and toils of life, how nice to encounter just one small frog,’’ says Brian Barratt.

But who would be a frog, with 10,000 brothers and sisters, most of whom will be eaten before they grow up. Abandoned by Mum, no baby-sitter, no adoption agency…

To read more of Brian’s wondrous words please click on The Scrivener in the menu on this page.

And while still in the mood for fun and mental challenges do also visit his Web site, The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

There was much excitement when someone found a frog beneath the rambling bushes at the back of my garden. Correction: In the jungle that was once a garden. Just an ordinary little brown frog. It showed no wish to leap off the hand of its finder. Excitement? Why, yes. Frogs are heard down at the creek and have worked their way up the lakes in the wetland behind my back fence. Their very presence is a good sign for the environment.

Amidst the trials and toils of life, how nice to encounter just one small frog. He, or she, brought welcome relief from the daily grind. We could all focus on the tiny creature, and wonder. He or she — oh, dammit, let's say IT — makes a much nicer noise than the roar of cars up and down the street. It doesn't have to worry about the price of petrol or the situation in the Middle East. It isn't driven bonkers by telemarketers, mobile phones, and shopping trolleys with wonky wheels.
Wouldn't it be nice to be a frog? Not a care in the world. No, hang on a minute. Perhaps it wouldn't. For a start, it isn't very dignified to start your life as a tiny grub wrapped up in jelly. Nor is it safe. The lakes at the back, for instance, have a resident white-faced heron and a regularly visiting little pied cormorant. There are also two pairs of perky Australasian little grebes which feed underwater. They are all rather fond of the likes of you, if you're frogspawn, nutritionwise.

Then you could have up to 10,000 little brothers and sisters. Surely that's overdoing things, even for a Catholic family? My ancestors, who were Protestants, didn't have more than about 15 in a family. Usually about 10.

In spite of all that, you'll feel awfully lonely. As soon as you've swum from under the gooseberry bush — in an obviously mixed metaphor of a birth — your Mum will abandon you. There's no baby-sitter, no adoption agency, no kind Grannie to care for you.

Growth, development and puberty for human children are complex enough. Bodily bumps grow in an embarrassing sort of way. If you're a tadpole, you'll grow a tail before you grow legs, and then your back legs will arrive before your front legs. All extremely confusing for a child.

Along the way, most of your 10,000 siblings will be eaten. That fate could await you, too. Alas, you might never chirp and croak among the reeds and rushes, or venture into my back garden. It's a cruel world.

On the whole, then, it isn't really surprising to know that certain frogs have asked fair damsels to kiss them, so that they can turn into handsome princes. On the other hand, if tadpoles by the thousand asked fair damsels, or even little girls, to kiss them, we'd be overrun by very small, noisy, show-off, handsome princes. On reflection, it's probably best for the environment to let the herons, cormorants and grebes continue to enjoy their meals.

© Copyright 2006 Brian Barratt


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