Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Green frog


     Regular reader Tony Galati shared this photo, taken in the eerie half light of the 2017 eclipse.
     "I think the frog was confused into sleep-mode by the dusky sky. It let me put my phone right in its face," he said, inviting me to use the picture on the blog.
     I think I will, thank you Tony, simply because it is a lovely green frog—if I'm not mistaken, that's not only its description, but also the creature's proper name, "green frog," or Lithobates clamitans. The large round circle just behind its eye is its timpanum, and while some sources equate that with "ear," it's really more an ear cover—a membrane keeping water out of its actual ear, located securely beneath it. 
     A frog's lungs are connected to its ears, by the way—betcha didn't know that—which make sense if you consider how tremendously loud frogs can be. Loud to humans, far away. Imagine how much louder their croaking would be to the frog's themselves. To keep those bellowing blasts from hurting their own ears, the lungs equalize the pressure on either side of their eardrums—a kind of amphibian noise cancelling headphone.
     I probably should end this here: enough fascination for one day. But I couldn't pass up an excuse to pull down the Oxford English Dictionary, guessing as I did so that "frog" is probably a thousand years old and Teutonic. Check and check. "Frogga," with all sorts of various subforms and complications, cropping up around 1000 A.D. Though hardly changed in the next half millennium, when Shakespeare penned his famous "eye of newt and toe of frogge" in "Macbeth."
      Then there are the various formations of "frog" such as 
"froghood" and "frogland" and one that will come to mind when I finally lose my place of employment, "frog march," which I somehow associate with a prisoner being forced forward in a kind of rolling squat, though the OED says is also the state of being held by his arms and legs by four men.
    Not to forget "frog-eater," defined as "a term contemptuously applied to Frenchmen" due to their supposed love dining upon of the amphibians. 
     Speaking of which; a story comes to mind. When my older boy was about 12, he went through a phase of wanting to eat exotic foodstuffs. Brain tacos and caviar and oysters and such.  He probably felt that doing so elevated him among the fancy set. He would put in his request during his frequent trips to my office to spend the day. One day he asked for frog's legs. The only place I could think might have them was Hugo's Frog Bar, naturally enough. But that was closed for lunch. I knew it shared a kitchen with Gibson's, and fortune favors the bold. So I called the owner, Hugo Ralli. "Could you do me a favor?" I said. "I have a little boy whose heart is set on frog's legs." He told us to come on by.
     So now we're sitting in the dining room at Gibson's. My son, with flowing blond hair, is enjoying his lunch. A woman at the next table glances at his plate. "Frog's legs!" she exclaims, indignantly. "I didn't see frog's legs on the menu!" 
     "They're not," says my son, eyes on his plate, face set in concentration, working at the dainty morsels with his knife and fork. "It's something the owner arranged specially for me."
     It probably reveals something bad about me—a small, embarrassing hunger for status—to admit that I cherish that memory. But I do nonetheless.


  1. Guilty as charged. Adorable though.

  2. Love it! Both the story and the photo.

  3. "I think the frog was confused into sleep-mode by the dusky sky. It let me put my phone right in its face," he said.

    That was one of the coolest things about being in the path of totality. We were at Giant City State Park in Carbondale. Instead of merely seeing the colors of a post-sunset dusk in the west, the same thing was visible at all points of the compass, a 360-degree twilight, with darkness overhead. And the temperature fell sharply during the eclipse. The reading on my handheld digital thermometer dropped from 93 to 68, and then rose again when the sun's rays returned.

    Can't wait for the next one. It will occur on April 8, 2024. Won't even have to leave my deck to experience it. But it's in early April, and this is northern Ohio. Might be 80 and sunny...or snowing like hell. We are supposed to get a big dumping tonight and tomorrow. In late April. Oh, for joy...

    1. I was in northern Wisconsin, that day. It didn't get very dark, but the wind went calm and all the birds were suddenly quiet. My neighbor's black lab drowned in the lake just then. I don't know why. Labs practically live in water. We had to put the dog in a wheelbarrow to get it from the lake to her car. She wanted to bury it at home, down state. Such a strange day.

  4. Since the subject is frogs, moving specifically to frog's legs, I gotta give a shout-out to Phil Smidt's restaurant in Hammond, which is the only place I ever had them. Closed for years, now, but not forgotten...


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