Fall is here, and like clockwork I caught myself a cold. Happens every year around this time. I don’t know where I got it, but I woke up the other just a snifflin’ coughin’ mess. And of course, that’s the day Minnie gets on me to get out and mow the grass. Uggh.
So I’m out there with the mower, coughin’ and hackin’ and thinkin’ to myself thank cripes the weather is gettin’ cooler and I won’t have to do this too many more times this year, when I seen somethin’ move in the grass. At first I thought it was just a leaf, just tumblin’ through, but for some reason, rather than just keep mowin’ I stopped and took a half-step to the side of the mower and realized what it was.
There in the grass, tryin’ to hop along about a half-inch at a time was this tiny little frog. And there he was, right in front of the mower, tryin’ with all his might to get out of the way, even though it would have taken him about half an hour to move two feet and get clear of the mower. Plus, he was hoppin’ toward the unmowed grass, and I didn’t want the poor little fella to get smooshed by the mower. I got kind of a soft spot for the underdog, so when I seen this tiny frog starin’ down a lawnmower, I did the only thing I could do – I picked him up between my finger and thumb and put him in my shirt pocket.
I took a peek at him before I started up the mower and he was kinda jumpin’ up and slidin’ down the inside of my shirt pocket over and over, since it was way too deep for him to get out of. So what I did was, I reached down and picked up a few blades of cut grass and put them in my pocket with him, so he could play in them, or snack on them if he got hungry, or whatever it is frogs do.
I started up the mower and cut another row of grass and when I stopped to blow my runny nose, I checked on him again. He stopped jumpin’ and was just sort of sittin’ on the grass I put in. He looked so cozy I was almost jealous of him, but lookin’ at them two eyes on the sides of his head, and the little flippers he had for back feet, I knew I found myself a pretty good little guy and that we’d be best buddies.
How ya doin’ in there, Ribbit? I’d say to him when I checked on him after each row I mowed. I figured I had to come up with a name for him and Ribbit was as good a name for a frog as any.
Now, the problem was, as I kept mowin’, I was gettin’ closer and closer to the house, which meant I was gettin’ closer and closer to bein’ finished. And I realized that meant I had to decide what to do with the little guy. See, I knew the right thing to do would probably be to set him down in the yard again after all the grass was cut.
But I looked in my pocket at him again and how he was all cozy on the grass and I realized, holy cripes, I probably mowed right over his little house. I figured, I can’t very well leave a little frog like this go homeless out in the yard. The dog would probably swallow him up and the cats would bat him around like a squeak toy.
No way, Ribbit, I whispered to him. You’re gonna stay with your buddy Billy.
And I parked the lawnmower next to the back step to cool off and I was about to go out to the baby barn to get an old jar or an ice cream dish or somethin’ where little Ribbit could live, but when Minnie seen me by the step she yelled out the window – Good, you’re done. Get in here, cuz supper’s on the table.
Now, there’s no way I could tell Minnie, just hang on ‘til I build a little apartment for my frog. So what I did was, I went inside just like she told me.
So then I’m sittin’ at the table eatin’ Minnie’s delicious spaghetti and meatballs with Minnie and Rosie (Little Bill’s not home on time, of course) and every once in a while I’ll check in my pocket and see how the little guy is doin’ and each time he seems fine.
Holy cripes, I might get away with this, I thinks to myself. So we finish supper and by then I’m not as worried about gettin’ caught, so I says to hell with it, I might as well have the tea.
So just as I’m comin’ back to the table with my tea, Little Bill finally comes home and plops down at the table with his big plate of spaghetti. The way Little Bill eats just about anything is, he pours about five pounds of pepper on it.
I’m sittin’ there with my arms sort of crossed in front of me, leanin’ on the table. And I didn’t realize it, but I guess when I crossed my arms like that, it kind of pushed my buddy Ribbit closer to the top of my shirt pocket. Little Bill is sittin’ next to me in a cloud of pepper, and I already got a cold anyway, so I let out this one god-awful unexpected sneeze and when I opened my eyes, I seen the frog plopped down on the table next to my cup of tea.
Little Bill says, Geez, Da, that’s some cold ya got there.