Saturday, August 16, 2008

Meanderings: A Mutable Frog

For the past 3 days, I've been watching a frog, deceased. It could be a toad, but the underside looks a bit too green. Our toads are generally dirt brown. The whole thing started because I'm always on the alert for stinging insects while in the vicinity of inanimate objects. We have many wasps in Florida who persist in building their nests on posts, railings, gazebos, even mail boxes, in short, anything that doesn't move and to which the unsuspecting human is likely to come into proximity. The size and striped markings of some are truly intimidating. I've learned, though, that it is the smaller, foul-tempered kind that are more likely to sting. On the bright side, at least we don't have yellow jackets circling our barbeques. Of course, the flies render them superfluous. A more aggressive and prolific class of fly I have never seen, except that unlike those in much of the South, they don't bite. For that we have the no-see-ums, mosquitos, and fire ants. Of these, the no-see-ums are the worst. They are teeny; they are impervious to bug spray; and they have the itchiest bite, a bite that returns to torment for days.

Anyway, on the first day, the cohort of flies alerted me to something by the storm drain. I looked, only to see them dive bombing an upside down frog. The frog looked pretty normal, and there were no signs of trauma on his underbelly. I wondered what had caused his death. Did he just suddenly croak, there by the safety of the drain pipe? He couldn't have dried out; it's been raining daily. And they like that. After a rain, his slimy and off key brethren come out and create a cacophony that would put the Budweiser commercial to shame. Perhaps, a bird had gotten him, and he rolled over. But he looked too intact. I mulled the evidence but stopped short of grabbing a stick to inquire. Curiosity and all, there is the cootie factor.

And so I forgot about him, until the next day. There he was, a little further down the incline and a bit puffier. The flies were gone, and on some level I realized his abdomen was distended by gas, but the thought of what else lay in there made me turn away.

Still, I've become fascinated by this process. Today, I went over to find him unmoved, deflated, whatever having escaped through a hole in his upper thoracic region. Overnight, he had developed a whole host of colors, the effect of which resembled those purples and yellows of a healing black and blue. There was a hideous beauty to it.

I slapped myself- mentally. What was I doing? Why was I drawn to this horrible, beautiful thing? Suddenly, a whole host of poems came to mind. There was DH Lawrence's experience with a snake, or the dead toad one, even the pig. Perhaps, this experience of death would lead me to a great insight about life. Naw. Just a dead frog/toad by the storm drain.
I'll save the insights for others.

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