You guys. I’m writing this in my bathrobe, because I may have to burn my clothes. It’s been a long day.
Today was Annual Clean-out-the-Frog-Pond-Before-the-Little-Suckers-Lay-Eggs-in-It Day. (This typically occurs about a week after the edge of the pond starts to peek out from under the snow, but well -WELL- before it’s comfortable enough to stick your entire arm into freezing cold water.) Have I mentioned we live in Vermont?
Normal people in Vermont have big, beautiful, natural, spring-fed ponds, that are basically self-maintaining. Not us. We have a two-foot-square mushy spot out back that’s just wet enough to gum up the lawn mower. So, about 7 years ago, I dug a pond. With a shovel. In a state made mostly of rocks. This took some time, but after a few weeks, it was big enough to qualify as a shallow grave. As you know, six feet is the going standard for graves. It also happens to be the standard for ponds up here, because that puts the bottom of the pond just below the frost line. Fish and frogs totally appreciate this, because they can hunker down for the winter and watch reruns, without freezing solid. My aquatic masterpiece was three feet deep. So, I decided our goldfish would learn to be Snow Birds, enjoying the Green Mountain State in the summer, then heading south (to the tank in our living room) for the winter. (We played Jimmy Buffet during the move - they totally bought it.) I assumed the frogs would figure things out.
That Spring was the first time I had to clean out a pond this far north, and also the first time I realized frogs really don’t have the faintest idea what is, and is not, deep enough. Maybe some of them get it, but there were exactly eighty-seven of them that didn’t, that year. If there was any way to convey to you precisely how good a rotting vat of eighty-seven dead frogs doesn’t smell, I wouldn’t do it. I like you. Thing is, I also like frogs. A lot. So, every year, my mission is to empty the pond (it always fills back up) and scare away all the frogs before Winter. It looks funny, but I’m getting pretty good at it.
Better, anyway. This year I scooped out five and a half frogs. So there I was, both arms thrust as deep as possible into the Vat of Despair, trying to fill a short length of hose to create a siphon and drain all the rainwater, snowmelt, and frog bits, without resorting to sucking on the business end of the hose. It took a couple of tries, but finally, slowly, the putrid water started to drain out and away from the yard. That’s when I realized Tobias Fünke was thirsty.
Our Australian Shepherd is very smart. What he isn't, is very particular. There he was, at the far end of the siphon hose, lapping happily away, without a care in the world. I jumped up, hollered, waved my arms, realized I’d gotten up too fast, slipped, and landed in the mud. Not just any mud, you guys. Frog-mud. You know that smell I didn’t describe to you earlier? It’s way worse when it’s ON YOU. Still half-dizzy, I rallied, ran clumsily up to the deck, kicked off my frog-mud-covered shoes, and made it almost as far as the kitchen, before frantically peeling off my clothes between gags. As soon as my hands were free, I loaded them up with soap, and didn’t stop with my hands.
And that's why I was naked in the kitchen, when the mail lady showed up.
Our mail lady is cooler than most people, and didn’t bat an eye when I came to the door at 3:00 in the afternoon, slightly damp, bedraggled, and wearing nothing but a (probably inside-out, now that I think about it) bathrobe. She'd brought a treat for Toby, and had an extra second to kill, so we all went down to check out the progress on the new soap kitchen, and the pond. It was while we were standing by the pond that I noticed Toby nosing purposefully around something that was decidedly Not a Treat. Before I'd fully grasped what he’d done, he’d already scampered 10 feet away, two slimy, greenish legs dangling crazily from either side of his mouth. "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!" I hollered, and lunged, bathrobe flapping freely behind me. I didn’t make it in time. You know that overly large drink size 7-11 is famous for? He looked me dead in the eye, grinned (I swear), and that’s how it went down. Big. Gulp.
We stood there for a moment, in stunned silence, trying to process what had just happened, as a very satisfied Tobias Fünke licked his chops like he’d just eaten a sirloin. Awkwardly, I excused myself from our horrific little garden party, and went inside to contemplate my life choices.
The good news? I can already hear some little croaker out there trying to find a friend to help him defile the newly clean pond.
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