A few days ago, I came across a frog in the parking lot close by where I worked. I knew it wasn’t there to do any shopping or anything like that. The way it was on top of the painted white line first alerted me to the fact that this frog had not parked like that on purpose.
From a distance, the frog looked like it had fallen victim to the common road-kill syndrome. Certain odd people have been known to take pictures of road-kills, threatening to make calendars of such pictures. (Who would ever even entertain such a thought?) Upon close inspection of the frog, I saw it was upside down so I photographed it in that position. With my foot, no, with a stick, I turned it over for a better shot. To my amazement, the frog that I thought had croaked, croaked! “Had I actually heard a croaked frog croak or was the croaked frog actually croaked and croakless?” I asked myself. I answered, “Beats me!” Then the supposed croaked croaker croaked again and moved slightly. “Great!” I thought. If I had known this was going to be more than a simple still shot, I would have brought the video camera to film road-kill.
As it turned out, the croaker had indeed not croaked and had proved it by croaking. I then decided to do the only humane thing I could do. I squished it flat! (No I didn’t! Some of you were cheering, weren’t you? What kind of frog haters are you?) I picked it up with a paper towel and headed towards a nearby creek. The last thing I wanted on my bus I was walking towards in the first place, was the smell of a croaking frog. What, with all the smell of BO, urine, booze, cheap cologne, stale perfume, cigarette breath, garlic halitosis, bodily gas and all the rest of such likes I could get from one rider, why should I taint it with the smell of a common pond frog?
Upon reaching the creek, I had to release the frog from a pedestrian bridge which was about seven feet above the surface of the water. “He’s a frog”, I reasoned, “and the best place for him was back in the water”. I tossed my frog when no one was looking, no one human, that is! Just after I tossed him, I looked down stream a short distance and saw two male Mallard ducks! I might have, just as well have, tossed Daniel into the den of lions! Except I didn’t think the Lord would intervene for the frog.
Just before I tossed him, I accidently looked him in the eye. Never look a frog in they eye! They see it as a challenge to their frogshipness! They never blink. (I don’t know if they even have eyelids! If they do, they could be clear and you would never know if you have been blinked at or not. That’s cheatingbut frogs don’t care! They have no conscience, especially if they are close to being un-conscience as this frog apparently was.) We looked, his bulging eyes to mine, and I saw a sadness I had never seen before. Of course, I had never looked a frog in the bulging eyes before! No winking. No blinking, me thinking, no sinking when I toss you. I tossed, he did a belly flop and sank all the way to the bottom! All 4 and one half inches. Then he slowly bobbed to the top. His long hind legs were dangling down and the only thing above the surface were the nostrils of his nose…and those bulging eyes with the fiendish clear eyelids! “You looking at me”? I wanted to scream but everybody knows you don’t scream at a frog. Not one that is injured. Not one that is looking at you with blinkless eyes. Not when there is the chance that other human beings will see and hear you! No siree! So I didn’t.
I just stood there, on the bridge, watching helplessly, breathlessly as he begin to drift down towards the waiting drakes. What had I just done? Oh well, just as long as I didn’t have to look him in the eye as he closed the gap between himself and the downstream drake ducks. And, the unthinkable happened. As his poor, little, almost lifeless back legs, (which looked good enough to eat now that I morbidly think about it) dangled in the crystal clear water, I saw he was about to float over something that could alter his course. Was it a hungry catfish? Was it a beaver trap? Was it an abandoned landmine? (Got you! Landmines are not found in the water…….generally.) What was it then? It was a rock! A rock was waiting for him and instead of floating by it, instead of passing over it, his low hanging hind leg caught on the rock, spinning him around there in the water. Once more, our pitiful eyes met and it seemed as if I could almost hear him croak, “Thanks a lot you big dummy”! (Frogs can be very offensive when they think they can get away with it!) Anyhow, our eyes locked for what seemed like two minutes, which it really was because he stayed, hung up, there on that rock for two minutes. The current would gently sway him from side to side, the whole while, those eyes still slightly above the surface of the water stared at me. I couldn’t help it and I knew he saw me but I just couldn’t help it. I blinked! I had to. I had been staring at him for two minutes. I hate to admit it but I lost a ‘stare down’ with a frog. Oh, the shame of it all!
Fortunately, the current broke him loose and he drifted further down the creek. Finally, his beady little eyes were not on me because he was facing downstream, as if scouting out the two ducks whom he and I were both certain were scouting out him. And then, it happened…again. His leg caught something else and once more, he pivoted to face me once more. Those eyes, those froggy eyes again bore holes through me and I felt him say, “You threw me to the ducks? Have you no heart?” And then, as if he accepted his inevitable, awaiting fate, he broke free, swung away from me and drifted even closer to the ducks. But then, something truly happened. Nothing happened. the ducks didn’t move! They just stood there, on the shore while a perfectly good set of frog legs drifted by them. Oh, sure, the ducks are well fed by people crossing the foot bridge but even a well-fed duck can only eat so many Cheezy Kurls, cigarette butts, coins and bottle caps tossed to them. None-the-less, they ignored him. They were too busy primping and preening to even notice him. And then, you guessed it, the current turned him towards me. Those eyes, those haunting eyes seemed to be laughing at me and he seemed to speak once more, though it was a barely audible croak, “Hey, hey”! Mocking me, he was.
“I should have let you croak in the parking lot”! my mind yelled at him. “And don’t think I’m going to tell you about that Canadian Goose waiting at the next bend in the creek”!
He thought I was bluffing, that was until he heard a noise. Now whether it was the current or whether he himself did it, was difficult to tell but he did a half spin and he saw for himself that I was not pulling his leg, so to speak. Sure enough, a huge male Canadian Goose was up on shore, just around a slight bend in the creek. He was doing much as the ducks were doing except that he was preening and primping instead of primping and preening.
The frog tried to be as brave as his tiny, little, smaller-than-pea-sized brain would let him be but he just couldn’t hide his fear. He knew that most likely, though he had out-lived the ducks that he would not make it past the Goose. Death was imminent. Probably wishing about then that he could drown himself except frogs generally don’t drown for one simple fact. They’re frogs! Nothing scientific about that!
Well, less-than-pea-brain-frog did another number on my conscience when for the frogzillionth time, he pivoted in the water. Coward that he was, he was going to look me straight in the eyes,(again) even as he slipped down the throat of death. I wasn’t sure if I could keep myself from breaking away from his trance-like gaze or not. How was it possible that a frog could hold such power over my mind? Then it hit me. It was like coming upon a train wreck. As badly as you don’t want to look, your “want to look” desire kicks in and you look. Then, out comes the camera, you shoot till your batteries die and then you post your pictures all over the internet! It’s really quite simple.
I must admit, I had my camera with me and one thought came to my heart of hearts that kept me from capturing the Kodak moment. My h of h told me, “You don’t have a good enough camera for what you want to do so knock it off”! Not to mention, I don’t even own a Kodak!
Tensely, I watched from the safety and security of the bridge as the lame frog, (and I’m not talking about his bodily condition. He was lame because he was playing mind games with me!). As I watched in horror, as I stood paralyzed with fear, as I imagined the finally blood covered scene, I had to snap myself out of such thinking. If it was going to happen like that, well, I wanted………to be closer than I was, that was for sure!
And then, it happened. As if, in slow motion, one blurry frame at a time, the frog entered the point of no return. He was passing within reach of the meanest looking Goose I have ever saw. It was almost as if time itself stood still when with no one to interfere, the pea-size-brained Goose let the frog slowly bob on by. Not even so much as a lunge, a quivering muscle or anything like that from the Goose! In fact, just as the frog was disappearing around the last bend, out of sight, he turned in the water once more and in words that only a cruel frog could say, he seemed to say, “Hey Ivan! (I never told him my name!) “Hey Ivan, I’m talking to you. Sure is a lovely day for a leisurely swim. As a matter of fact, why don’t you go jump in a lake”!
Ps. Take this to the bank. I rescued a frog from a parking lot, tossed it into the creek where he did actually drift safely by two Mallards and a Goose and the frog also got caught up several times.