Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Suicidal Frog

frogatquarry.jpgMy grandson, the famous frog hunter, is up for a visit and after a week and a half, the frogs have finally gotten smart and found Jonathan-proof hiding places. To the east about 70 feet is "Frog Kingdom" and to the west about a full city block is "Frog Heaven". Armed with a butterfly net and a minnow bucket, the mighty hunter goes forth, choosing his direction by the wind, the weather, and just good old 7-year-old instinct. Frogs and toads, from old and huge to young and tiny, huddle in the grass at the bottom of the bucket as he trudges back to show everybody his catch. He watches them intently, and the rest of us hope the old ones don't take a notion to eat the tasty, young ones in front of his innocent little eyes.

After an hour or so, he knows he has to let them go, and his idea of real adventure is to let the Eastern "Frog Kingdom" frogs loose in the Western "Frog Heaven" and vice versa. Do they find their way back home? Of course they do. It's the nature of things, according to the book of Jon.

It got me to thinking about the suicidal frog I ran into at the clotheslines one day, and I wondered whether that particular frog eventually came to its senses and is now responsible for some of the progeny ending up in the minnow bucket and beyond.

It was a warm, sunny, early spring day with a breeze off the lake that cried out for sheets to be drying on the line. I had just set my basket down when I sensed something in the grass to my left. It was a big, green frog and I don't know how I knew it was there, because it could have been a frog statue, still as a stone. It sat there with it's head turned away from me the entire time I was hanging the sheets, and that seemed mighty odd, considering I could be the enemy for all it knew.

But then I saw what it was watching, and I just have to assume that I was more horrified than that frog was. It was a snake in the grass. A REAL snake in the grass. And it was poised, head up, looking ready to strike. But the frog just sat there, waiting. "Go!" I whispered to that frog, but if it heard me, it didn't acknowledge it. "Get out of here!" I said out loud, but it never twitched a muscle. I stomped my foot, and again--nothing.

Finally I turned my attention to the snake. I was not going to be a witness to this. No frog on my watch was going to commit suicide-by-snake. I had a long clothesline-prop nearby, and I reached for it, but then thought better of it. What if that snake crawled up the prop and got me before I could send it flying?

What to do, what to do? "Get out of here!" I yelled to the snake. But once again I might as well have been a thousand miles away. Neither of them were paying any attention to me. I was afraid to move, because I had it in my head that my presence was the only thing keeping that frog alive. If I moved in any direction--toward the frog, away from the frog--the snake would strike for sure. There were no rocks within reach, nothing to throw, so I yelled louder : "Come on you guys, stop this!"

Finally, my husband came around the corner to see what all the fuss was about, and he calmly kicked the snake away from the grass and onto the beach, where it slithered into the water and went out of sight.

So what did the frog do? It looked at me as if to say, Fool!", and hopped down to the beach in hot pursuit of it's executioner.

The moral of this story is, when a frog wants to die, it’s going to die no matter what kind of intervention you desperately attempt. Saving the world is a sorry, unappreciated business. Take your victories where you find them, and forget about the ingrates, amphibians included.

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