Toad in the hole
Over on Conductive World on Monday we had frogs. Not the pistol-packing, mouse-courting frogs I know, or fast red-car-driving toad-like creatures either. Monday's frogs from England, Ireland and Canada were of a different kind. Not so adventurous although some were making a good attempt to be a bit more active than the others. On Andrew Sutton's frog posting there were frogs wearing blinkers, frogs leaping up in buckets making curds-and-whey others drowning in it, there were even frogs contemplating contaminating the water in the well to bring their situation to the attention of the wider world above.
The BBC mole
On Tuesday it was not frogs that were a part of my world but moles. Not toad-in-a-hole but a single mole without one. At exactly the same time that I discovered Mr Mole I heard that BBC Radio Norfolk was discussing the increased population of moles in my home county and describing how their burrowing and natural ploughing of the fields is costing farmers up to a third of their crops each year. It is hard to believe that such a gorgeous little creature, that fitted into the palm of my hand, could do such damage.
Mole in the road
I came across my mole-without-a-hole on the cycle path on my way to work. It was rush-hour and about ten cyclists flew past me as I stopped to take photographs, so I suspect that it was one of the earlier riders who had stopped Mr Mole dead in his tracks.
There was not a mark on him, He looked like he had died of shock. There were no flies or maggots on him either, so it was a very recent death.
As you would expect, with my camera as always in my pocket I jumped off the bike to take some pictures. Then after I had moved Moley to the verge and had a stroke of his gorgeous velvet coat, I carried on with my journey, I was now only five minutes away from work.
Hitching a lift on the back of my bike
I had cycled only about twenty yards when I stopped in my tracks. This was the first mole I had seen in over thirty years. The first and only other sighting that I have had of a mole was on a country lane in Wales in 1976, when one dashed in front of my front wheel, narrowly missing being squashed. There were fifteen children waiting for me at work. Even if just one of them, on even just one of the adults, was interested I had to take Moley with me. So I turned round to fetch him. I packed him up in my oily rag, tucked him in the carrier of my bike, and took him too work.
My colleague was at the door waiting for me. I was a bit late and she immediately ased what I had been up to. She is a townie but she was delighted to to see a mole for the very first time, as were most of the people who saw him that day. There were a couple of squeemish adults but those children who chose to take a look were, as always, fascinated.
The littlie who once used to call me "Yogi" was quite concerned. He said to me "This mole won't be seeing his home again, will he?"
I explained that I did not know where his home was but I that would bury him in the warm earth of the rose bed, so he would be in the ground where I am sure he felt safest of all. Much better than leaving him on the cycle path, we agreed.
This littlie was mesmerised by Moley, an animal that until now had been a creature in a picture book, or a puppet on my hand. i was mesmerised too. we coulded believe the size of his spade-like hands and in contrast the tiny eyes. His eyes were like pin-pricks in spaces either side of his nose where there was slightly less hair.His hands were dirty, and looked like baseball gloves with claws on them.
For me the best thing about Mr Mole was his velvet coat, so soft that I could hardly feel it at all under my finger tips as I gently lowered him into a hole in the rose bed.
Sedate and gentlemanly Mr Mole had been a little bit too sedate this morning as he crossed the road. Perhaps those frogs over on the other channel will take this as a warning and, before they hop on to those lumps of butter, or jump out of the bucket that has pulled them up from the deep, they will remove those blinkers and take care in the blinding light of their new, wild world of big horizons. A world full of dangerous but exciting new adventures.
As I was cycling along on Tuesday, before I met Mr Mole, I had been thinking about all the creatures that my Mum had kept to show me over the years. There were sun-dried frogs that she kept for me to see when I arrived home just a few years ago and, on a different occasion, there were frogs in the grass leaping as you walked through it.The grass had been left uncut until I arrived.
When I was about ten-years old I found a baby bat waiting for my inspection when I got home from school and there were always caterpillars and moths, birds, shrews, and no end of skeletons dug up while gardening, put somewhere for my inspection. Sometimes we found things together, like the larvae that we raked up with the moss for the robins to feed on from our hands, and the flying-ants' nest we disturbed one evening, and then watched lying on our backs on the lawn as the swallows dive bombed us as they fed.
It was no wonder for me on Tuesday morning, the second anniversay of my Mum's death that I found Mr Mole looking so smart in his velvet coat, and that I had such a delightful and memorable day with him. It is now a day that I will remember, as I remember the days with the bat after school, and the ants and swallows above the lawn.
Andrew Sutton's froggy tale -
Jasper Carrott, The Mole -
The mole in a hole, The Southlanders 1958 -
Froggy went a courtin -