Derek – Friday 12th March 2021

When I came into the garden yesterday, the wind was blowing a gale. The plastic sheeting covering the half-completed flats next door was thrashing like a loose sail. A number of chairs had blown over, and the triangular cover of our display stand had been ripped off. Four years ago, high winds tore down part of our fence along Sprowston Road. To stop this happening again, we put viewing holes along the fence, making us friendlier and also lessening wind power in a gale.

The high winds reminded me of the hurricane of October 1987. During that night, I kept being woken by the noise of the wind thrashing in the trees. In the morning, it was found that millions of trees had blown down throughout the country, blocking roads, falling on cars and rooftops, and stopping public transport. Poor Michael Fish, the TV weatherman, who had assured us the winds would miss these islands, had to take decades of ribbing.

We watch our frog spawn with expectation. It has swollen in the week since it was deposited and has sunk to the bottom of the pond. We might get our first tadpoles by the end of next week, depending on the temperature as this will forward or delay their hatching. When they leave the spawn, they are pretty helpless, with black masses of tadpoles hanging onto the jelly or nearby plant stems, gathering the strength to swim freely.

Frogs are amphibians, which means they are tetrapod vertebrates which lay eggs without shells, usually in water, and have an aquatic phase but can live on land. The first vertebrates developed from fish which clambered ashore about 350 million years ago. It was once believed that legs developed on land from creatures like lungfish, but it is now believed that legs, with feet and toes, developed in fish in swampy waters. Walking was more manoeuvrable than swimming in thick reeds. Acanthostega is a famous fossil found in Greenland by Jennifer Clack in 1987. It had legs and feet but couldn’t live on land as it had gills and its legs, shoulders and hips were too weak to support its weight on land. Primitive lungs evolved and a stronger supportive skeleton, allowing such creatures to clamber up the shore.

These early amphibians of the Carboniferous (360 – 300 million years ago), as well as being the ancestors of modern frogs, evolved into reptiles, including dinosaurs, and into mammals.

There are blue anemones by the middle door, and daffodils not far away with a deep orange trumpet coming out of a pale yellow corona. By the main gate, there’s grape hyacinths and purple violas by the container. The yellow wallflowers in the small bed near the pond flower on and on, not caring for seasons.

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