lost in transmutation
(originally posted 3/9/2014)
If people hibernated then I’m sure there would be a medical term for what Greg had, but as Greg was a frog and people don’t hibernate I’ll just have to describe it as best I can.
Disappointed in the name Greg for a frog? Expecting him to be called something whimsical like Gribbit?
Be reasonable. First of all, there are literally millions and millions of frogs and they can’t have all names that are whimsical. Second, if you take a moment to examine the existence of a frog you’ll find a decided lack of whimsy in their lives. Granted they start off as tadpoles and it’s tough to top that if you’re looking for whimsy, what with the tail and the swimming around and all, but eventually the tail departs, to be replaced by legs, as they move from an aquatic lifestyle to a more half and half land approach, and after that they are strictly business.
So, the condition Greg was afflicted with…
Although perhaps the word afflicted is a bit harsh. While it did drive him a bit mad, it could be argued that the thoughts that run through the heads of both people and frogs are really the only proof that we exist at all and thus this so-called “affliction” added at least thirty five to forty percent to Greg’s existence.
His condition was this: while all of his amphibious comrades slipped deep into the mud and went to sleep for the winter months, Greg slipped into the mud and was awake the entire time.
A bit of a mixed blessing.
It made him a very odd frog when he eventually popped out of the mud and rejoined his brethren but nobody could argue that he wasn’t a pretty bright frog. He’d had plenty of time to think through some issues that in the course of a typical frog year most frogs didn’t have time to mull over. Frogs seem to be on the menu for almost every animal out and about in the warmer months so much of their time is spent hopping for their lives and trying to squeeze in a few worms and flies when the opportunities present themselves. Buried safely in the mud allowed Greg some peace and quiet his slimy pals didn’t have available to them.
I realize at this juncture that you might be guilty of anthropomorphizing Greg to such a degree that you have him inventing things and walking erect and such but let me slow your roll a bit and remind you that he was still a frog. A really smart frog is still not as smart as really dumb raccoon and I’ve yet to be walking through a wooded area and see a small raccoon factory belching out black smoke and producing tiny wheelbarrows or raccoon footwear.
You’re still probably dizzy with the earlier whimsy of tadpole imagery and thinking this story is destined to end up a Disney flick.
Let’s try to collect ourselves and get back to Greg shall we?
For although nothing about his condition indicated that he would end up the beloved star of an animated movie, Greg had seen some things that no other frog, that he was aware of, had seen.
Snow for starters.
Every few years the ground would warm up noticeably and he would slither up topside while the rest of his frog compatriots slept blissfully unaware that there was a break in the cold action. Greg would emerge and see the grey skies and naked trees of winter but the temperature made it safe to sluggishly move around.
And while sluggishly moving around, he would occasionally see lumps of this white stuff he’d never seen before. When he got closer he could feel the chill radiating off it. Being a very wise frog he knew not to get too close because there were still hawks flying around and they could, whether it would make sense to them at the time or not, see a green frog against a white background from miles away.
The first time he’d seen it he couldn’t wait to report back to all the other frogs but the following spring, when he told them of his discovery, they laughed and croaked derisive things about him so he never said another word about it.
So seasons came and went and Greg spent his winter months deep in mud and thought while simultaneously trying not to go out of his mind.
Then one December the temperatures suddenly shot up and he emerged to find the air temperature similar to a typical spring day. His blood started to flow more quickly and he made short work of exploring the frog-less world around him.
Or so he thought anyway.
For there, sitting on a section of pond still covered in ice, was another frog.
A young lady frog.
And quite a looker. Legs that went on for days. He thought he remembered her name was Amy and she had just lost her tail the previous spring.
Almost on queue he saw a hawk high above them take notice of her and he leapt into action. Please note that the fact that Greg was a frog and he happened to be leaping into action was entirely accidental and one of the more pleasant side-effects of not knowing what the next word in the story might be until it’s typed.
He let out a well-timed croak and Amy was able to slip safely into the chilly water and make her escape. Moments later she slowly crawled up to Greg to croak back her thanks. Greg could think of no better way to get introduced to a female and felt his confidence grow with each suave observation he made about their winter environment. She took it all in like an eager student. They spent two solid days above ground before the temperatures started to sink again and signaled it was time to once again slide deep into the earth and wait things out.
Two magical days.
Amy was just happy to know that she wasn’t the only frog who couldn’t get to sleep.
Greg found himself appreciating probability and circumstances more than he could ever remember.
It was the first time he could remember burrowing where he was already anticipating the trip back topside. His heart was fluttering away, remembering sliding up to Amy just before they went their separate ways. If ever a frog felt debonair it was then. Their enormous eyes almost touching. Whispering to her and hoping that she understood.
“I have to be leaving … but I won’t let that come between us, okay?”