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For a long time the frogs went on talking, “It’s eerie here! It’s eerie here!” and the bullfrog, after a meditative silence, “I know! I know!” Then the nervous frog again, “It’s eerie here—it’s eerie.” The bullfrog seemed to consider it, when he answered consolingly, “I know—I know!” Christina Stead, Letty Fox: Her Luck
I ate my first frog legs (cuisse de grenouille) in 1975 at a restaurant well above my means but worth every franc in the small Alsatian town of Eguisheim. I remember a beautiful chapel across the way. I was told it was dedicated to Pope Leo IX, a native of Eguisheim.
More than three billion frogs are eaten worldwide each year, some 4,000 tons by the French and half that by Americans, who tend to prefer them patted with flour and sautéed in browned butter.
Along the Mendocino Coast highway if you look diligently as you drive you may see a sign for Frog Pong Road. We understand that the original owners of the property along this road developed a frog pond from which they harvested frogs for restaurants in San Francisco. The pond, if it existed, has long since disappeared but one can imagine they hear the descendants of those frogs when the first rains arrive.
You may not be a fan of frog legs but that shouldn’t stop you from trying the exceptional “Crunchy Frog” from Whizzo Chocolates.
We were delighted to find a tiny frog flourishing in our small deck garden. We are sadly aware that these wonderful creatures are disappearing at a rapid pace. [Note: not all frogs are tiny. The Goliath frogs can weigh between 6-7 pounds and are ferocious parents.]
Garden Frog, Little River California
Garden Frog, Little River California
… have not the mouse & frog
Eyes and ears and sense of touch? yet are their habitations.
And their pursuits, as different as their forms and as their joys
William Blake: Visions of the Daughters of Albion
Throughout history, in culture and literature humans have been fascinated by frogs. Special qualities both evil and good have been attributed to them. Recently an ancient Peruvian mural was discovered in Peru that seems to highlight the connection between frogs and water and life. [see the mural at the top of this post]
The famed Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera is said to have called himself el sapo-rana (the toad frog). Frida Kahlo, the iconic Mexican painter, lover and twice wife of Rivera, memorialized the name in her painting titled The Dove and the Frog. Frogs are a common motif in Mexican art. Consider, for example, the painted wood carvings of Oaxaca (alebrijes) and the highly prized beaded art of the Huichol Indians of Jalisco, Durngo, Zacatecas and Nayarit. (see below)
Oaxacan painted wood carving (alebrije)
The Frog Chorus is the best known passage in Aristophanes play The Frogs and the source of much wisdom. In Chinese mythology frogs have multiple symbolic meanings ranging from someone with healing powers or financial acuity to a short-sighted or unfeeling person. Nobel author Mo Yan (Guan Moye) in his novel titled simply FROG writes of love and life where human sperm, early stage embryos, tadpoles and bullfrogs are all connected.
Novelist Emma Donoghue explains the title of her book Frog Music by saying that it is her “invented term for the lustful, urgent sounds made by a chorus of frogs in the mating season. The novel is all about the basic-base-urges and drives we share with our fellow creatures.”
There are plenty of good reasons (aside from eating them) to hope that the lowly frog thrives and prospers. The famed biologist Edward O. Wilson, still active at 90, has made the preserving life on earth his manifesto. Let’s hope he succeeds, for the frogs and for us.
Of course, a glut of frogs may be more than you wish for, so take care.
This is what the great LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials. Exodus 8:1–4