It’s frog weather! I am not alluding to the fact that Biblical torrents of rain have been pounding the harbor all week long and that the weather forecast is for another full week of the same-no, that I’m trying my best to ignore- I speak instead of the gradual, almost imperceptible warming of the temperatures that is luring the frogs out of hibernation. Frogs have the right idea. When the air turns cold they eat whatever bugs are still available, pat their fat bellies, and burrow down into the soft embraces of cozy swamp mud. One frog is elected as emissary to keep track of winter- that’s the lone frog you hear on a January day when we zoom up to 40 degrees. Out he comes, spends a few hours up top, then returns to the mud to tell the other frogs that it was a false hope. Last weekend the sublime sunshine brought scads of frogs out of bed, and soon you’ll hear more and more happy croaking in the swamps.
I have a soft spot in my heart for frogs. My father instilled this appreciation of frogs in me. Our house sits close to a swampy stream, but there wasn’t a great abundance of frogs at that time. It was a source of sorrow to my father. He longed for a mass choir of frog voices rising in a serenade on warm Spring days. He didn’t say much, but I could tell. One Spring Break when I was about 6 years old we took a trip to a remote lake somewhere in the Cascades. I don’t recall the name of the lake, but in my mind it will always be Frog Lake. Our camp was smack in the middle of the most polished and enthusiastic voices in all of frogdom! Oh, how they croaked! My father was ecstatic, lying in his sleeping bag he’d comment on the velocity and tone of the various voices, finally speaking of his pent up secret desire for more frogs at home in Hoquiam.
He spent several days creeping around studying the frogs and made wonderful sketches of them. Instead of satisfying his longing for frogs, this abundance of his favorite creature created a craving that grew and grew. These particular frogs didn’t have much fear of people and we found that we could walk right over and pick them up. They’d give a questioning look, but didn’t struggle. As the warmth of the day faded, they became downright sluggish. A gleam appeared in my father’s eyes as he spotted an opportunity. He hatched a plot- rather than break camp mid-day, we would wait until evening. All of the camping gear would be crammed into the back seat of the old Nash, leaving the trunk ready to be transformed into a frog zone. We picked leaves of Skunk Cabbage and other nice wet swamp greens and patted them into the trunk.
Then the frog round-up began. They were so easy to catch, and when we put them into the trunk they just sat there. Pretty soon we had dozens of frogs and my father was whistling a happy tune. I’ll never forget pulling into our driveway and the ceremonial opening of the trunk. Think ‘Born Free’ here! The frogs had grown a trifle agitated during the long trip home, plus the trunk had warmed them up. They were a tad bit grumpy by now and ready to leap out, and leap they did- with gusto! A blizzard of flying frogs filled the air as their instincts led them to the safety of the stream.
Trilliums are blooming, Johnny Jump Ups are appearing, and the frogs are croaking- sure signs that Easter is approaching with the promise of rebirth and resurrection! Celebration and feasting are in order, more traditions are due to be honored. Hot Cross Buns, an ancient symbol of Good Friday, will come out of the ovens at the Farmers Market early Friday and Saturday morning! Anthony will have traditional Polish Sausage ready, and we’ll have pies, cookies, daffodils, flower baskets, free range fresh eggs, chocolates, fresh pressed apple cider, and even some of the rare Trilliums to grace your Easter table. We want to hear you croaking with sheer joy!
Barbara Bennett Parsons, manager of the Grays Harbor Farmers Market, 1958 Riverside in Hoquiam ph. 538-9747 open Tuesday thru Sunday
Deidra’s Deli is open 7 days a week! Ph. 538-5880