|Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.
One of the neat things about writing, is after a while, when ya tell a story, someone likes and when something ya say strikes a chord in someone’s memory, they’ll let ya know, and when they hate what ya say, they’ll let ya know that too. And that boys and girls is just a little bit of why I love to write.
And so it is with the Peeps of Spring Time, those little tree frogs, the ones who bring the audio side to the Nighttime of Spring. The little Peeps of Springtime. I’ve been asked once again to retell the story of the Peeps, the Bells of Springtime. Now not only do ya get the Peeps of Springtime, ya also, at no extra charge, get the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork. So now the challenge is to determine fact from fiction. Or is it all fact? Or all fiction? Peeps and Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork, ya just never know, but some of it is. Or is it? Maybe, or maybe not.
You’ll find below this paragraph the story from a few years back when I first introduced the Bells of Springtime to the EastWing. Enjoy, and for those of you who remember the Bells of Springtime and didn’t like the frog story to begin with, oh well, let me know and the next time we’ll go fishing, instead of gigging. So here goes with the story from about 2006 or 2007, I’m not sure which year, but I’m sure about one thing, it’s the Bells of Springtime. I’m also sure of another thing, I’m truly humbled to be asked to retell one of my stories. Thank you for asking.
For all of those who offered to come to the aid of Sophia The Calico Republican Cat, not to worry, I assure you the cat can hold her own, not only with the 2girldogs but the rest of the world, with one paw behind her back. Sophia is fine, and no, the 2girldogs didn’t get physical with her. It was a verbal attack only. The fur didn’t fly, and the cat didn’t die. Good thing Sophia chose not to get physical with the 2girldogs, else I’d be looking for new 2girldogs.
Last week’s e-mail truly amazed me at the number of people who were honestly concerned for the safety of Sophia The Republican Cat. Good thing I didn’t list an emergency help phone number for Sophia. The best email came from a feller in Texas, it was only two lines, but it seemed to sum up the sentiments of a large majority of last week’s e-mail, it said:
NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN TO COME TO THE AID OF THE PARTY.
YOU GO – GIRL CAT SOPHIA !!!
It could be that one of the things I liked ‘bout that email was it somehow, hauntedly, reminded me of my 1st year typing class, and I don’t know why, but it just did. I taught myself to type when I was in the 6th grade. A neighbor gave me a little portable typewriter, a Royal Typewriter. Don’t remember where I got the book, but I got hold of a first year typing book and the rest is history.
Taught myself about “home row” and “CAPS” and stuff like that. Wonder how many people still know ‘bout manual returns, when the bell rings, and what the hell to do next? Needless to say, when I got to high school I took typing I and II. Think I learned to type early ‘cause I had things to say early in life, still do, and so I type. Typing is kinda like talking with your fingers, that typing stuff I learned a while back in downtown Toto, It still works for me.
A friend came back to visit last Friday, a dandelion, that pretty little springtime friend of mine. She always comes back to grow and play in my green, green grass of home. I love dandelions. From the time I was a little boy, every year, every single year, I take the very first dandelion I see to my Mama. She’s always glad and surprised that I’ve brought her flowers of springtime. But just between me and you, I think after a while, I think Mama kinda expects that I’ll bring them dandelions when the time comes. But Mama’s always happy and glad when I bring her the dandelions. All Mamas are like that, yeah they are….
I’m so enjoying the sounds of springtime nights this year. So much so that the other night I decided to go out and visit those little sounds of the darkness. They’re frogs, ya know, those sounds that come to your ears from the darkness, from the springtime nighttime darkness. Those sounds come from little frogs called Spring Peepers.
Little fellers, them Spring Peepers, way smaller than your thumb. But happy little boys indeed. Happy to be alive in the springtime air. Little fellers just out there looking for girlfriends. All the sounds from all those little boy frogs remind me of sleigh bells ringing. In fact, these little boys are called the Bells of Springtime. They’re certainly music to my new ears, these Bells of Springtime. This year, with my new electronic hearing aids, it’s the first time I’ve heard the Bells of Springtime in a long time, a long time, and it’s such pretty music to my new electronic ears.
It’s when the crushing cold of winter starts to yield to warmer times, as it does every year, even when ya think it’ll never end, it always ends. It’s on a cold, cold, clear night, the wind is still, and the frost is heavy. The moon, a bright yellow ball hanging on a black sprinkle blanket of stars, and the air, the air so crisp it would snap like a fresh cracker, as a movement starts under the dead leaves of autumn past. Life resurrecting. A Bell of Springtime returning from the dead.
First one eye, then the other, one leg moves, then another. In a few short minutes everything is working just the way the little feller left ‘em when he dug deep under the Dead Leaves of Autumn to freeze to death for the winter. A little boy frog is coming back from a place between heaven and hell, between death and darkness, the purgatory of frogs. A Bell of Springtime is tuning up to ring again.
I almost forgot to tell ya an interesting thing ‘bout not only the Peeps, but of all frogs. It’s the way they survive the winter. Now frogs have an ability to make their own kinda anti-freeze. I’m already starting to see some of my emails next week, laughing ‘bout the frog anti-freeze story. Before ya start laughing, ya better check it out, ‘cause I’m telling ya I know a lot ‘bout frogs, that’s for sure.
‘Cause one time when I was little, my Uncle Hagins, well, my Uncle Hagins took me frog hunting when I was at Southfork in the summertime. Now we didn’t go hunting for Peeps or regular frogs, oh no, we went hunting for the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork. The Big Boys of the frog world! Frogs the size of dogs.
Now ya gotta hunt these Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork in the creek bed where it’s dark and almost scary. At the place where the air smells like snakes, and the sun never shines, ‘cause the hills are too close together. The only thing there is, the water, the smell of snakes, and maybe even the real snakes are there too, and the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork, and some times, empty pop bottles.
We went right there, my Uncle Hagins and me. We went to hunt the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork. And it didn’t take long to find ‘em. We found their trail a long ways before we got to the place where the air smelled like snakes, ‘cause that’s where Uncle Hagins said the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork lived, where it smelled like snakes.
When Uncle Hagins showed me the Giant Bullfrog Tracks, at first I thought that it was a person’s footprint in the mud, but Uncle Hagins showed me the difference, ‘cause he knew ‘bout Giant Bullfrog Tracks and stuff like that. Uncle Hagins said if we just kept following those tracks it’d lead us right to the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork.
To tell ya the truth, I was almost scared, but I knew that my Uncle Hagins wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me, ‘cause I was his favorite nephew, and he had a lot of nephews, so I just walked a little bit closer to him and didn’t tell him ‘bout me being almost scared an all. ‘Cause when you’re seven years old and out hunting Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork where it’s dark, that’s almost like being a man, so ya can’t say you’re afraid of anything. But I was, almost.
Then Uncle Hagins said “BobbyRay, you smell snakes?” That really, almost, made me scared. I said “yah” Uncle Hagins said “me too” I could hear my heart beat in my ears, but I wasn’t scared, I was just hearing my heart beat in my ears.
Uncle Hagins had in his hand a gig. Now a gig is a long stick with a prong on one end and it’s used to catch fish or frogs, and today we were gigging the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork. Well when I thought my chest was gona break from my heart beating so fast in my ears, Uncle Hagins throws his gig into the water, runs over and pulls up this Giant Bullfrog of Southfork, stuck right there on the prongs of the gig. Uncle Hagins takes the Giant Bullfrog of Southfork off the hooks and no sooner than that, he throws again and in less than a minute we have two Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork. Uncle Hagins gigged two more Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork in just a few more minutes.
Then he said it’s my turn to gig a Giant Bullfrog of Southfork. Well, the pole of the gig was a lot taller than me, but I was bound and determined that I was gona gig a Giant Bullfrog of Southfork, or die from a snake bite while trying right here in the waters of Southfork.
Two time I threw the gig, but it didn’t go far enough. So Uncle Hagins said that maybe if we both held on at the same time maybe that would work. Now don’t ya just know, the very first time me and Uncle Hagins threw that gig together it struck a Giant Bullfrog of Southfork. We had to throw five or six more times before we got another hit, but finally I got another prize.
With 6 Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork in hand, Uncle Hagins said that he thought that was ‘bout all we could carry home. We started out for home with Uncle Hagins carrying his four Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork and me carrying my two Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork. That didn’t last long, after ‘bout a hundred yards or so, I had to stop and rest, ‘cause these Giant Bullfrogs were ‘bout to weight me down to the point where I couldn’t go no more. We rested a little while an started for home again, but same thing, ‘bout a hundred yards or so, I’m wanting to stop and rest from the heavy weight of these Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork.
Uncle Hagins said, the way he figured it, at the rate we were going, we’d get home ‘bout Christmas Time, if we were lucky, so he had to do something different. Uncle Hagins cut down two Willow Trees, one bigger than the other. On the bigger one, he cut a notch on each end. He took the smaller tree and took all the bark of it, and threw the skinned tree away. Uncle Hagins took the bark strips and tied up three Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork into two bundles, he then hooked these bundles over the ends of the pole with notches. He raised one end of the pole with the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork and told me to help lift the other as he raised it to his shoulders. And I did, as Uncle Hagins picked up all the six Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork on his shoulders. We didn’t have to stop any more all the way home.
Talk ‘bout being surprised. Well they sure were surprised to see so many Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork. Uncle Hagins told ever body how good I was at gigging Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork, and how he was just lucky to get two and how I gigged four. I didn’t tell anybody the difference. I just thought maybe Uncle Hagins forgot who got who.
One of the down sides of hunting the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork, is when ya catch ‘em, ya gotta clean ‘em. I’m not gona talk much ‘bout that, ‘cause that’s not as much fun as the gigging part. When ya do the cleaning, it’s kinda like cleaning fish, but ya don’t hear your heart beat in your ears though.
Now the thing that people eat from Bullfrogs are Bullfrog Legs. Now regular Bullfrogs have little Bullfrog Legs smaller than chicken legs. Not the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork, these Bullfrog Legs were the size as big hams, each one weighing maybe 10 pounds apiece. Since the Bullfrog Legs were so big, Lou said we should smoke ‘em in the Smoke House like Uncle Hagins did the hams when it was time to kill the pigs. Everybody thought that was a good idea. That night we put the cleaned Giant Bullfrog Legs of Southfork in the coldspring and went to bed. I could hardly sleep, thinking ‘bout me gigging those four Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork just like Uncle Hagins said.
The first thing in the morning me and Uncle Hagins wrapped the Giant Bullfrog Legs in cheese cloth and hung ‘em up on hooks from the top of the ceiling in the Smoke House. Then Uncle Hagins build the fires under the Smoke House, he knew how to do all that stuff, my Uncle Hagins knew how to do a lot of really neat stuff. He was my favorite uncle, and like Uncle Hagins having a lot of nephews, well I had a lot of uncles too, but he still was.
I don’t remember how long they had to stay in the Smoke House, but we left Southfork and went home to Weeksbury, and I started into the first grade at Weeksbury. We didn’t go back to Southfork till Thanksgiving. Then my Aunt Gladys and my Mama, they cooked our Thanksgiving Dinner, we didn’t have turkey, and we didn’t have goose, we had two Smoked Giant Bullfrog Legs. There were ‘bout 15 or 18 people there for dinner, and most everybody took leftover Smoked Giant Bullfrog Leg home for supper. Big frogs indeed, those Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork.
But getting back to this frog anti-freeze thing. Frogs being cold blooded animals, that is to say their body temperature reflects the air around them. So during the winter, a frog’s body temperature falls and its metabolism drops. Its heart can even stop beating and start again in the future. Too bad we people can’t do that little trick. And we think we know magic. ‘Course we can do a lot of things frogs can’t. Frogs can’t do a lot ‘cept jump and stick their tongue out rally far.
Many frogs dig into mud or deep holes to escape killing freeze. Some do practice controlled freezing. They produce excess sugars and starches to prevent damage to sensitive tissues while the remaining water in their bodies turns to ice. The North American wood frog, that species including the Peeps, live as far north as Alaska. They can survive with 65% of the water in their body frozen solid. I guess ya could take those little fellers, put ‘em on sticks then ya’d have Peepsicles.
Now those Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork, to this very day, don’t ever worry ‘bout freezing in the wintertime, why no, they just build themselves a campfire, sit around and tell stories ‘bout how a little boy used to wade in the waters of Southfork with his Uncle Hagins looking for ‘em in the summertime and all the while the little boy was almost scared.
Setting on the back of my chair, Sophia read the story as I typed, she laughed so hard she damn near fell off the back of the chair, twice. Said she never knew frogs got that big. Told her they don’t in Indiana. It’s a Kentucky thing.
Stay Safe in Iraq and Afghanistan.
From the East Wing, With Sophia’s E-Mail, The Bells of Springtime, and the Giant Bullfrogs of Southfork
Some things just never change.
I wish you well,