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Filing a Story from Exile Land

Originally published May 2020

I’ve been trying to pull stories out of my brain that have nothing to do with the Plague, but the sad fact is other than spilling out fiction every morning—the endless historical, another romance dredged out of the sink-hole to finish, and the Wednesday serial scenes, I am basically doing nothing of interest at the moment.

The previous is probably a stupid opening because actually a lot of things that are interesting to me personally are happening.

I could write about my experience this week with my first doses ever of an antihypertensive. I was born for high blood pressure. A lifetime of hidden anxiety and angst has prepared me well, plus a maternal pre-disposition. Not obese, well-balanced diet, active, I am disappointed in myself for not being able to control this with “life-style changes.” (What does that mean, exactly, anyway?) However, my anxiety eases off quite a bit at seeing blood pressure readings far lower than they have been in the last five years of trending upward.

The husband, who had been freed from diabetes, hyperlipidemia (the wrong kind of cholesterol readings too high), and hypertension through the benefits of modern chemicals, aided by a substantial and lasting weight loss, smugly smiled at me yesterday when I complained about my new medication’s energy-sapping proclivity. He’s gulping down 3 medications for hypertension each day. On my forty minute walk my body felt lax, and I had to push it to keep up my the martinet-style pace I like to go. When I got back I took a nap. (Dog and cat nocturnal activity had broken up my sleep a bit, anyway).

My family eschewed physician visits. There might have been a religious influence but I think more than that it was pride. We hate admitting anything is wrong. I wouldn’t even know until weeks later that one of my sisters might have had major surgery—we just prefer not to share this kind of data.

So I just did write about my health. I could also write about our bullfrog. She moved into the pond a few months ago—the first hint that something was going on was the appearance of polliwogs.

The thing about this pond is that it is really old and it came with the house. When it was new, it was probably lovely with two channels taking water from a deep upper pond built of cement and landscaped with large rocks. The builder planted yellow irises, the tall kind that thrive near water and ornamental grasses.

The lower pond is big and deep enough for fish. Not koi, my koi-loving friend would tell me, but certainly goldfish. To prevent great blue heron predation, the builder constructed an arbor over the lower pond. A ragged green mesh is stretched over the arbor, as an illustration of the durative nature of plastics.

When we got ready to move into our house, we talked long and hopelessly about how to get rid of it. We wanted more area for a garden!. But the husband began to circle it thoughtfully, thinking.

The upper pond was lined with a black tub that was cracked, we learned when we decided to fill it to see what happened. So we bought pond liner—way too big—and laid it in. Next was the solar pump. For thrift, we bought a small one, and the husband set it up in the lower pond.

In direct sunlight, the solar panel works just fine. The pump is designed for a smaller pond system; it shunts water up a considerable grade to the upper pond, and through manipulating the yards of super-thick pond liner, we were able to get water flowing down one of the channels.

The sound of trickling water is one of the most pleasant sounds in the world. Without delving into the cultural meaning of this, I do have to say that if I could sit beside a gurgling stream all day long I wouldn’t have high blood pressure.

Mrs. Frog first became known to me some weeks after her brood were seen swimming through the algae farm in the bottom of the large pool. Twice while walking on bridge near one end of the pond, I heard a Plop in the water. Frog. Yes. That would be a frog.

Beyond the park behind our house is a deep swale, owned and desultorily maintained by the power company. In winter, the swale fills with water that feeds the year-long reed population. Last January and February, a chorus of Pacific frogs found the water and sang for dates. In the cold mornings, they were so loud they sounded as if they were just beyond the deck.

The odds of our frog, once I finally saw her basking on the cement at the edge of the pond, being a Pacific frog were slim. Bull frogs are invasive in the state of Oregon. The Oregon Department of Wildlife recommends killing them and eating them. Bull frogs came as livestock and of course, they saw the beautiful Willamette Valley and thought great! We can thrive here!

She’s been here for more than two months. Bull frogs are known to dine on “anything they can get in their mouth”. One morning last week I saw one of our garter snakes soaking in the pond, head just above the surface, a worrisome four or so feet from where Lady Frog sunbathed. I was able to identify the bull frog as a female—they’re larger, they don’t croak, and then, there were all these babies that had to be hers—using binoculars and the Internet.

We like her. I am wondering when her babies—those that survive garter snakes and birds—will be ready to leave the water. I wonder where they will go. I know better, but a part of me hopes she’ll be back next year.

Thus ends a couple notes of Life in Exile.


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