A small token of my esteem

FroggyHere you go. A frog that I caught in the Huron River some months ago. A couple weeks ago I thought we might hear an early arrival of the Spring Peepers who reside in the DEQ protected wetland behind Wit’s End. They come precisely with the second heavy Spring rain when the temperatures rise above 48 degrees Fahrenheit. We had one such rain, but now we are locked hard in the grips of a February freeze with the current temperature sitting steady at 21 degrees.

Similarly, my muse has gone dormant. "Like a frog, the aphorist waits for something to fly by that he can catch with his tongue." Nada. Did I mention that I work? I know, you know my stock and trade is psychotherapist. For almost 30 years. I don’t write very much about that at all, even though I love my work. Tonight I’ll be giving a talk to an auditorium full of elementary school parents. On parenting. I’m fairly adept at advising other people about parenting their children, but like the plumber, things can get leaky around home. (Truth be told, my children are- knock wood- in stellar condition at the moment. Shhh.) So these past few days I’ve been busy working on this talk, entitled, "Who’s Raising Your Children?" The subtitle is something rude, like "not you, much as you would like to think you are." But that’s true: as parents, unless we are the exception to the rule (and I am acquainted with some notable exceptions) we spend very little time indeed at that task. Would you like some specifics? Statistics? Illustrations? Say the word and I’ll elaborate and give you some feedback from the audience tomorrow. I hate public speaking.

By the by, "A frog in love would not be enchanted to learn that her beloved had turned into Prince Charming." (Mason Cooley)  Do you ever go through one of those periods where you are less than enchanted with your beloved? Oh, be honest now. Yes, yes, they’re the best thing since Wonder Bread and you list off all their lovely attributes and virtues but aren’t there periods when you would just as soon be communing with a frog down by the river? Or with Hugh Laurie? Right. And then what do you do? In my experience, virtually always, waiting quietly helps.

So, I’m waiting for something pithy, waiting to want the company of my beloved, waiting for that second warm rain.

In the meantime, I offer you this tiny frog.
What a wonderful bird the frog are—
When he stand he sit almost;
When he hop, he fly almost.
He ain’t got no sense hardly;
He ain’t got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain’t got almost.  (anonymous. who would want to lay claim to this drivel?)

Or do you prefer this?

Frog has no nerves.
Frog is as old as a cockroach.
Frog is my father’s genitals.
Frog is a malformed doorknob.
Frog is a soft bag of green.

I think that the day the fine American poet, Anne Sexton wrote this, her muse was also out to lunch.

16 responses to “A small token of my esteem

  1. I know it’s a frog, not a toad, but your selection of Amphibious Poetry put me in mind of an old favorite of mine:

    warty bliggens the toad

    i met a toad
    the other day by the name
    of warty bliggens
    he was sitting under
    a toadstool
    feeling contented
    he explained that when the cosmos
    was created
    that toadstool was especially planned for his personal
    shelter from sun and rain
    thought out and prepared
    for him

    do not tell me
    said warty bliggens
    that there is not a purpose
    in the universe
    the thought is blasphemy

    a little more
    conversation revealed
    that warty bliggens
    considers himself to be
    the centre of the said
    the earth exists
    to grow toadstools for him
    to sit under
    the sun to give him light
    by day and the moon
    and wheeling constellations
    to make beautiful
    the night for the sake of
    warty bliggens

    to what act of yours
    do you impute
    this interest on the part
    of the creator
    of the universe
    i asked him
    why is it that you
    are so greatly favoured

    ask rather
    said warty bliggens
    what the universe has done to deserve me

    if i were a
    human being i would
    not laugh
    too complacently
    at poor warty bliggens
    for similar
    have only too often
    lodged in the crinkles
    of the human cerebrum


    — Don Marquis

  2. Excellent, Elisson. And I’m inclined to agree with warty. I have yet to figure out what makes us feel so all fired up special in the general scheme of things- especially with so many exceptional examples offered up by Creation. Thanks!

  3. This reminds me of why I shun poetry and cliches like the plague.

    I’ll be interested to know who does most of the raising of the child: the parents, the TV, the cellphone, the peers, the teachers, or the Playboy Centerfold.

  4. No, G. I did kiss him.

    Why, Hoss- it’s you! You are! And the wide world web. How scarey is that?

  5. What about Emily Dickenson?

    The long sigh of the Frog
    Upon a Summer’s day,
    Enacts intoxication
    Upon the revery.
    But his receding swell
    Substantiates a peace,
    That makes the ear inordinate
    For corporal release.

    Ok I prefer the Archy, but this was the only frog poem I could think of! And I admit that I bit (ok a lot) more fond of porcelain frogs than real ones.

  6. A-you’ll be pleased to know that rocket science daughter asked me, on the phone two days ago, if I had ever read anything by Emily Dickenson. Dear Lord.

  7. First Shakespeare and now Dickenson? Don’t worry, Nyssa informed me a couple of years ago that Dickenson seemed a bit “trite” to her. She loves Virginia Woolf especially “To the Lighthouse”. I decided to read it and see if I could discover a new author to love. Sorry Nyssa, I just don’t do the stream of consciousness writers, couldn’t figure out the point of the story. It reminded me of Melville’s Mardi; he was still sane at the beginning but by the time he wrote the end he had descended into insanity.

    I love the little musical green tree (not to be confused with “green tea”}frogs with their elastic sticky little round suction cup legs. It was so much fun to open the front door and have two or three of the little inchlings stuck spread eagle to the outside of the glass. Just too cute.

    Is there any good news or stats out there for the poor moms who have NO CHOICE but to work and try to raise kids? In my case I did both but something always has to give. I split time between work and putting everything else into Nyssa and the personal life was left behind. But I have no regrets on that front, as yet. We’ll see in another few years when everything else that occupies my life goes away.

    Someone sent me this little story and I send it on to you to brighten your day:

    The elderly couple were sitting in church. Halfway through the service the wife leans over to her husband and says, “I just broke a silent wind, what should I do?”

    Her husband leaned over close to her ear and said, “I think you better change the battery in your hearing aid.”

    Good luck on your talk, I’m sure you are great at public speaking.

  8. I’d love to hear more about your talk to the parents. And, especially, their reactions.

  9. Man….why didn’t you tell me you were giving a talk?? I would’ve come for moral support, especially if there were parent-y snacks available 🙂

  10. Dang..heavy stuff over here 😉 I’m just lookin’ for that frog to kiss so my prince will appear!!

  11. You will not be too harsh about benign neglect in your parenting speech, I hope.

    Bruce has a secret weapon for keeping me wanting his company – his violin. “Oh he bows for he knows…”

    Please don’t say rain!

  12. Vicki, DO TELL about the parenting!

    I have a magnet on my fridge:

    “Princess, having had sufficient experience with Princes, seeks frog.”

    That says it all, huh?

  13. Ooo, can’t wait to hear about the parenting talk. Sounds very interesting.

    And I’m also none too pleased with the mister today, and have been wondering what to do. “Wait quietly”, you said. Yes. Very good idea. Thank you for that.

  14. He’s beautiful. I’m not going to show him to my girl because then she’ll want another one!

  15. My frog is bigger than your frog, but you’d have to dig deep into the archives to find him.

    Funny how that goes…the waiting quietly I mean.

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