I was reading Courtney’s blog at courtcan.com where she has a fabulously written story from her childhood. It reminded me of those days when living outdoors was my passion and my red metal wagon was my tool of choice. Suddenly the doors to memory opened onto one of the most fascinating days of being a kid–The Day The Frogs Invaded. This could very well have been the beginning of my love of science fiction.
There had been heavy rains for days, with all of the neighborhood kids cooped up in houses on the air force base in Florida. The air was warm and incredibly muggy but all we wanted as kids was to be outside. We got our wish the day the rain ended and I remember dashing outdoors onto the lawn–only to stop dead in wonder. There were frogs…everywhere! I saw my best friend from two houses down come running up. “Do you see ‘em?” he yelled. “Get the wagon!”
I got the wagon and we began gathering up frogs from the carport, the sidewalk, and the yard. This was a complicated task due to the constant jumping the frogs did, right out of the wagon. There were giant bull frogs, medium-sized bright green ones and my favorite–the baby frogs. So tiny they didn’t seem real, I loved the feeling of them jumping on the palm of my hand.
We had a plan for the frog collection as we piled more and more into the red wagon. We were going to release them into the woods behind our houses. It never occurred to us that the frogs had to have come from those same woods. No, we were sure they had either a) fallen from the sky or b) appeared suddenly into our neighborhood like magic. We ran out into the street to rescue frogs from being run over by the occasional passing car. Our duty was clear–we had to save the frogs.
At one point we went up to the door of my house to show my mother what a great job we were doing. After one glance into the wagon full of jumping green amphibians, she gave a scream and shouted, “Get them out of here!” Since that was our plan anyway, we figured she agreed with what we were doing. It was only later, that I heard from her all about the dangers of picking up so many frogs. Note: no warts ever appeared.
By the end of the afternoon we had an entire crew of frog rescuers involved in our project. My best friend had convinced them all to join us with their wagons, and we had a parade of wagons and sweaty children headed toward the forest, constantly stopping to re-catch the latest frog who went jumping for freedom. Finally we made it to the chainlink fence that ran behind our houses and was the border of the neighborhood. Pine trees and scrub bush held reign beyond.
So there we stood, dirty and damp, boys and girls aged 4-8 standing in a line, shoving frogs one at a time through the diamond-shaped holes in the chain link fence, watching as they jumped away, back to safety.
By the next day, there was no sign of any frog infestation. I never again saw such a frog happening in my neighborhood and I would wonder every now and then just where they had come from and why had they decided to visit my street that day. That kind of wondering was the beginning of the question all writers start with: what if?
Image courtesy of animalclipart.net