Just one month ago, we had a frog.
His name. Ted.
Ted was a native frog, bullfrog, to be exact. That's right, we didn't purchase Ted in any pet store. He was caught. In fact, he was the first frog Joseph had ever caught.
This was big. For him and for me.
You see, I was a champion frog catcher back in the day. My six siblings and I were always trapsing through the marshes near Pond Street Park, on the hunt for amphibeans. Much to my mother's dismay, we never arrived home empty handed.
I remember one particular outing quite vividly. Mainly because it was, hands down, the most successful hunt we'd ever experienced. We came home with one cardboard box filled with roughly 50 large bullfrogs, another just brimming with nearly a hundred of their smaller brethren.
Yeah, it was great.
Now, we all knew that my mom wouldn't be too keen on us keeping this treasure trove, so we slipped down the cellar via the bulkhead, and placed the rather heavy, violently jiggling boxes on the cement floor. Right by our very large, very old furnace (once coal burning, later converted to oil). The thing looked like an ancient beast, with long vents extending from it, like the tentacles of an octopus, to the radiators on the floors above.
Anyhow, shortly after we all sat down to supper, well, that's when we heard it. The croaking. Coming up from those radiators.
The loud croaking.
My mother looked around the kitchen, then at all of us. We just ate our food, trying with all of our might to look as though we hadn't heard a thing.
But after supper, we raced outside, around the back, and down those bulkhead stairs.
The boxes were empty.
Although we never did find those frogs, a faint persistent croaking remained in the house for weeks after...
Fastforward to last month. Joseph had been invited to spend the day with a friend who'd moved out to "the country." Joseph was thrilled with the idea of this day trip; I was anxious at the mere thought of it. His blood sugars had been somewhat erratic, and I was unsure of the activity level, the food, well, everything about this little outing-- except that Joseph really wanted to go.
Thankfully, his friend's mom is very calm, and very responsible, and not the least intimidated by the whole diabetes thing. So, Joseph was picked up that Saturday morning.
And as it turned out, letting him go, allowing him the freedom to spend a day in the woods with a good buddy, was a really, really good call.
He'd had a fantastic day, no major highs, and (huge sigh of relief) no lows. But best of all, he caught his first frog. A magnificent specimen (this woman writes with pride).
When he brought the frog home in a small ziplock container, with holes poked through its lid, I asked Joseph if he'd held his prize.
He said this as if the question were entirely inappropriate.
"You held him when you caught him, though, right?" I asked, with hopeful insistence.
"No, we used a net."
I gave him an incredulous look, as if to say, "And just who are you?"
"That's it, we're taking him out."
"No! Mom, he'll get away!"
Before he could say another word, the lid was off; my two hands wrapped around a large, slimy, green bullfrog.
And for a split second, I was 35 years younger.
But then, the frog squeezed out of my hands, and onto the kitchen floor.
Just like that, the chase was on-- Joseph and I zig-zagging all over the room; the bullfrog hopping as high as the stove.
Yes, as high as the stove.
All the while, the two of us laughing until tears streamed down our faces-- until we finally got him trapped in a dish towel.
As we settled the frog (now christened "Ted") back into his container, we both agreed-- he was the most wonderful thing Joseph had ever brought home.
The next day, we purchased a tank, created a habitat half filled with water, and large rocks from our yard; fed him live crickets. And for weeks, watched with delight as our frog seemed to thrive, croaking at night like the sound of a shovel scraping the sidewalk.
But then, quite suddenly, Ted died.
Joseph and I cried together quite a bit that night. But later, I found myself thinking:
Dang! What is the deal, here? For cryin' out loud, it was just a frog.
And that's when I realized that when Joseph caught that frog, he grabbed hold of something more. Something that pulled the two of us together in a shared sense of wonder at creatures so very different than the rest of us.
And the pure joy of catching them.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Just one month ago, we had a frog.