Getting a jump on summer

We may be alike in that you, too, believed frog jumping contests had gone the way of Mark Twain, steamboats and rotary dial telephones.

Like me, you would be wrong.

We have been with the rural wing of the family, where you weave through a dozen or more mud boots scattered on the deck to enter the house. Dried mud, wet mud, layers and layers of stratified mud; it is a mud paradise.

As such, it is also a vacation destination for frogs. Beneath the shade of towering hickory trees, frogs cluster around pondings of still brown water, lounging in tiny bag chairs situated next to tiny charcoal grills and miniature frog-size RVs parked at the water’s edge.

Due to a burgeoning frog population growing by leaps and bounds, and the proximity of a small county fair hosting a frog jumping contest, the kids began eyeing the frogs in a new light. Visions of blue ribbons danced in their heads.

They collected a dozen assorted frogs and placed them in a large plastic tub filled with pond mud and water and topped it off with a lid with holes drilled in it for air. Naturally, they named the frogs. Every single frog was named “Winner.”

But they noticed the frog population dwindling. Every morning another frog or two was missing. Meanwhile, a large bull frog seemed to be growing. The frog count dropped from a dozen to nine to seven. And then there was one.

No one wanted to think the worst, however, a bit of research found that though it is commonly believed frogs are insectivores, they are actually “generalist carnivores.” This means they will eat any small critter they can swallow, including their own kin.

A moment of silence, please.

Now a moment of disgust.

And now a moment of gagging.

It’s a frog-eat-frog world.

The kids, all entered in different time slots and age categories, agreed to share the remaining alpha frog.

Given the signal, contestants were to place their frog on a faux lily pad. They could not touch the frog but could tap around it, blow on it or yell at it. If the frog did not jump within 30 seconds, it was disqualified. If the frog jumped, three jumps were measured and that was the entrant’s score.

In the baby-to-age-5 category, Winner scored 25 inches in three jumps. In the 6-to-11 age category, Winner jumped 25 inches for one of the kids and sat motionless for another.

With the 12-to-15 age category about to begin, the 11-year-old handed off the frog to his older brother seated in the row in front of him. As he passed the frog over an older woman’s shoulder—by her head—one of the frog’s legs accidentally, and ever so slightly, grazed the side of the woman’s face.

Both boys emphasize the “ever so slightly” business, as if being slightly grazed by a frog is far superior to having one smacked directly in your kisser. They may have a point.

Nonetheless, the woman shrieked and jumped. They say it was an amazing jump. No frog in the county has ever jumped that high – or that far. Nobody knows how far she jumped, but if she ever stops running, she can probably collect a blue ribbon.

The excitement must have energized Winner. Ture to his name, he made three jumps totaling 65 inches and cinched first place in the 12-to-15 group.





On people names going to the dogs . . . 

One of my college classmates, who grew up on a farm, had several dogs and cats and he named them all after his friends:  Bob, Sandra, Lois, Steve, etc.  No ambiguity there.
-Mike M.

Ours was Bagel the Beagle!
­-Rebecca N.

I have a 100 pound chocolate lab that I suspect has some Irish Setter in  his family tree. When he’s in the sun he is more red than brown. As a result I decided to name him Clifford after Clifford the big red dog. I learned shortly after he came into my life that he likes to snuggle, so Clifford didn’t work. As a result his name now is Teddy as in bear.
-Eugene M.

We have Derek the cat. He is our 5th cat and the first with a person-related name.  We were out of ideas. We had Tuffy, Sneads, Snarles (who really was a pussycat, so he needed a tough sounding name), Buddy and now Derek.  Derek seems to like the name.  He comes when called, but usually food is involved.
-Carolyn G.

My son’s two dogs were Copper and Nickle….he’s a chemist.
-Millie W.

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