Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bullfrogs and deer ticks

I had a great weekend a few weeks ago: Caught a bullfrog, immolated a deer tick, and donned a dress and makeup for a photo shoot. Not all at the same time, mind you; catching a bullfrog in a dress wouldn't have been easy. Not on the same day, either; the photo shoot was a day later. Still, it was a wonderful, wacky weekend.

Let me explain the bullfrog. I was a tomboy as a child, and catching frogs was one of my favorite activities. So, a few years ago, when traffic was stopped on a local road due to the appearance of a large bullfrog, I pulled off to the side and approached it with confidence. I could save the poor critter's life by carrying him to safety. Or so I thought.

I bent over him, as I had as a child, hands ready to grab his sides, but as I got within an inch of him, I froze. (And he jumped.) I was afraid! I couldn't believe it. I loved frogs. And toads. And lizards. Why was I so afraid? Was I really afraid of the creature? Or just afraid that I'd fumble and embarrass myself?

Last year I was getting out of my car at home and looked down to see the cutest little garter snake. (Yes, snakes CAN be cute, especially when they're barely as big as a pencil and are totally harmless.) I wanted to move him out of the driveway before my husband got home because I didn't want the poor thing to get run over. I used to catch green snakes -- fairly large ones, at that -- and garter snakes, and here I was, afraid to pick up this little guy! I grabbed a tree branch to scoot him along, and even chuckled as the little cutie turned to hiss at me, but I couldn't bring myself to pick him up.

So when we were invited to a cookout and later went out with the flashlight-packing host to view the night critters, I had to redeem myself. There sat a big, fat bullfrog, temporarily dazed by the flashlight beam. I poised over him and quickly brought my hands together around his protruding sides. My hands -- which fit in a women's medium glove -- barely covered him. As I lifted up, he pushed with his strong arms and legs, easily propelling his slippery body from my grasp.

It was at that moment that I realized another cause of my fear. It was not just of making a fool of myself -- no fear in that -- but of hurting him. I didn't want to squeeze hard enough to hurt him. Still, I had to catch him one more time, to redeem myself. Again he pushed easily out of my grasp, but, no longer stunned by his girth and strength, I grasped his legs and lifted him upside-down, like they used to deliver babies, and presented him to the host. "MY GOODNESS. He's a big one."

Again the amphibian slipped from my grasp, and I tried once more to catch him and hold him upright, but he was too strong and slippery for me to hold him without hurting him, so I let him go. I wanted to pet him, feel his little toes, look into his unfathoming eyes. But it was not to be. Still, I redeemed myself. I could catch bullfrogs again...

Now where's that garter snake...

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