When it comes to frogs, I’m still a little kid at heart. I love the way they jump, the different colors, sizes and shapes they come in, and the sound bullfrogs make when you pass too close to their pond.
The fact that they start off living under water as a tadpole with a tail, then grow legs turning into a froglet before finally crawling out of the water and hopping away as an adult frog scores way up there on my cool scale for bugs, insects, animals, and mammals.
But if asked, I do like some frogs more than others. Sporting two fang-like teeth, the South African bullfrog is as big as a dinner plate — that’s ten inches! But around here, the little, lime green tree frog that sticks to almost anything is my favorite — except this year during swimming pool season.
This year, my favorite frogs are the rare, giant, twin pool frogs. The frogs have been known to grow over three feet long and two feet wide — even bigger than South African fanged bullfrogs!
Don’t believe such large frogs can exist? Neither did I until last weekend. Read on, Dear Reader, but beware. The giants are hopping around all over this county — especially around our local pool.
My affinity for frogs started way back while growing up on Flamingo Street with my three brothers and The Sister. Frogs were always hopping alongside Cripple Creek, the creek that ran the length of Flamingo and directly behind our house.
Unfortunately, other than sticking it down the shirt of one of your brothers or throwing it at The Sister, there’s not a whole lot you can do with a frog once you catch it. The real fun of a frog isn’t carrying it around in your pocket. (Our mom found way too many that way and didn’t have fun finding any of them.)
It’s jumping like a frog as you try to catch it. There was only one thing funnier than watching us jumping after a frog, and that was watching us diving after one in a pool.
The year Twin Brother Mark and I turned seven, Dad spent the entire Saturday after our birthday erecting our backyard above-ground swimming pool and filling it with water. It was late in the afternoon when he finished and, after he read aloud a long list of pool rules, we were finally allowed to get in.
I would’ve said jump in, but along with no dunking, no running and no horse-playing, no jumping was one of his rules. (To this day, I still don’t know how you can run while standing in four feet of water, but we weren’t supposed to do it.)
In my defense of what happened the next day after church, no frog-playing wasn’t one of Dad’s rules. Now looking back at what was about to happen, perhaps it should’ve been.
After church, I was the second in the pool — the first was “Froggie.” Froggie was the green frog at the bottom next to the drain where Older Brother Richard found him. He was the first in a long list of strange things found in our pool over the next seven years and the most memorable. (Froggie, not Richard.)
Trying to catch a frog on land as it hops away is fun, difficult, but ultimately doable. The little frog will eventually get tired of hopping away.
But place the same frog in water, and the tables are turned. Frogs can swim much faster than they can hop … and much faster than any of us kids could dive, swim, or try to run after it. (Again, it is impossible to run in a pool.)
Didn’t take long before the evasive little green Olympic swimmer had worn all of us out, and that’s when he rested on the bottom right next to the drain plug. Reader’s Note: It’s almost impossible to escape from an above ground pool if you’re a frog — unless someone pulls the pool plug with their big toe and you get sucked out, ride the cascading stream of water down the hill, and spill back into Cripple Creek and freedom.
And that’s what made Froggie then most memorable frog I’ve ever seen in a pool. That’s until the giant twin frogs from last weekend hopped into our neighborhood pool with a splash.
Not showing an ounce of fear at the green spectacles, Little One and Sweet Caroline, our two granddaughters, jumped in, swam over, and started playing with them. For the next two hours, The Wife and I watched from our lounge chairs as girls and frogs tumbled, dove and splashed around the pool.
Finally, worn out and knowing it was time for lunch, the girls “caught” their giant frogs, dragged them out of the pool and placed them on lounge chairs to drain, dry, and get a much-needed rest. It made me feel good to know that they had almost as much fun playing with their giant frogs as we did with Froggie back on Flamingo.
Perhaps next weekend I’ll catch and throw a real frog into the pool. Knowing our girls, I think they’d love swimming after it, and it will give me another story to write: “How Big Papa Got Kicked out of the Neighborhood Swimming Pool.”
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]