A day in the life…we got frogs!
April 30, 2011 § 6 Comments
The only good thing to be on a day this hot is a kid with a hose.
On the other side of the wire fence that separates our yards, my twelve-year-old neighbor, Dee, is busy being that perfect thing.
The hose snakes through the grass as he drags it. Dodging the blast, Michael and Justin run and whoop. The boys wear only drenched shorts. Their skin is slick with water, their blond hair soaked dark. Our dachshund, Broder, barks as he runs back and forth along the fence, chasing the action.
Suddenly, Dee stops and lifts the lid on a large wooden box. He sprays water into it. As he watches the box fill the other two join him. Hands on skinny hips, shoulder blades poking out like coat hangers, all three lean forward and gaze into the box.
“What’s in the box?” I ask.
“We got frogs.” Dee closes the lid with his bare toes, then swivels fast and pulls the trigger. A jet of water parts Michael’s hair right down the middle.
Frogs, I think. That’s not so bad, frogs in a box of water. I let it go for a while. Then I remember how dry it has been.
“Dee? Can you show me one of those frogs?”
Dee would rather squirt Justin’s butt, but his daddy’s taught him to be polite. He drops the hose with a sigh and scoops something out of the box. “See?” In his hand is a toad, all tired out from keeping its robust body afloat with those small, turned-in legs.
I ask Dee if knows that toads are dry-land dwellers and that toads can live to be thirty if no one drowns them in a box. And then I tell him that I like toads. “I sure wish I had a bunch of toads in my yard.”
Dee drops to a squat and opens the box.
Reaching across the fence, he gives all the toads to me. Half a dozen at a time, they pour from his hands into mine.
Some spill over and plop on the ground. Tuckered out, they land on their sides, or their heads, or their backs.
Some have to be nudged over with a toe. Right side up, they sit and blink. They’re not even particularly scared of Broder, who is making his high, worry bark, and jabbing at them with his nose.
On about the fifth poke they seem to notice him. All right, all right, and, like partially-wound mechanical toys, they thump off toward the butterfly bushes.
On the other side of the fence Justin streaks between me and the business end of the hose. A flash of water hits my legs. It sure feels good.
In the nearby bushes, toads are turning into dusty stones.
Note: This essay was written summers ago and one dog back. I was glad to have it in my pocket because last week, doing a run of school visits, I didn’t have the time or gumption to write. Another hot summer is coming, and provided no one’s drowned them in a box, some of those toads have probably just burrowed up out of the warming earth.
I’ll keep my eye open for them.