Some relatives of ours recently asked me how I like living in the country. “Except for the bugs, it’s great,” I replied. And it’s true. While mosquitoes and spiders don’t creep me out and send me running and screaming, they are annoying as hell. Oh, and horse flies. I really hate horse flies.
But I have to admit – I’ll take a horse fly over a cockroach any day. (I just picked my feet up off the floor as I typed the word cockroach. Even the word freaks me out.) Fortunately, I have seen absolutely NONE of those little critters in my home. No, we just have spiders, mosquitoes and mosquito hawks. On the inside, that is. (Inside, because we have to hold the door open for-EV-er while Mason ambles his old bones back and forth over the threshold.) The outside? As we say in the South, that’s a whole ‘nother story…
I suppose I am getting used to “the country,” although I don’t feel like we are really that far removed. We are less than a mile outside the city limits, but we do have brighter stars, different night chirps, and various neighbors with goats, chickens and ducks. Oh, and a rooster, who I haven’t heard crow in a while, but I suspect was silenced on purpose since he was apt to crow four and five different times a day. In addition to the farm animals, my mother-in-law who lives next door walked out of her garage to find a baby raccoon snoozing in a lawn chair. She woke it up and watched it run off toward our house. Thanks, Mom.
While I don’t consider myself a country girl – I know enough real country girls to know that I do not qualify with my high heels and hairspray – I like to think that the country has grown on me a bit. Granted, I have tried to citify my little acre, but I believe we have changed each other equally. The land has given in to my decorative whims, and I…well, I have surprisingly learned to tolerate bugs and squirmy critters.
In the middle of mowing the yard recently I barely batted an eye as three grasshoppers flew up and smacked me in the head before one of them decided to perch on the front of the mower and ride for a bit. And when a skinny black bug with legs longer than my own landed on the back of my hand, rather than ejecting myself from the lawnmower in an attempt to get as far away from the bug as possible, I merely waved him off with a flick of my wrist. I don’t jump and scream anymore when I lean in to water the palms on my front porch and find myself face to face with the lizard who has taken up residence in one of them. And the truly amazing thing? I caught a frog. And yes, there’s a story there.
I recently set up my fish tank on the back patio as a plant terrarium. As I reached in to water the plants on Day Two of my terrarium’s existence, a host of mosquitoes began to flit about inside the tank. Despite the fact that I had planned this terrarium for over a year, researched all the necessary components and finally purchased all the stuff to set it up, my first instinct was to disassemble the entire thing, because in no way do I want to foster an environment whose only claim to fame is breeding more blasted mosquitoes!!
I am unsure whose idea it was to put a critter-eater in the terrarium, but we all agreed that either a lizard or a frog could take care of the mosquito problem. After all, a terrarium is supposed to be its own little eco-system, right? And lizards and frogs are in great supply around our house. So the kids set out on a mission to find a resident amphibian. I would see them scouting the yard, mason jar in hand, only to saunter back to the house fifteen minutes later, shrugging their shoulders as they passed me. On a quick trip into Petsmart, Victoria announced, “Hey mom! I found a frog!! It’s only SIX DOLLARS!!” To which I replied, “I am NOT going to pay six dollars for something I can get for free in my own yard!” The Petsmart employee wiggled her eyebrow and scanned my dog food purchase.
I really wanted the kids to catch a frog or lizard for me because sometimes I think that they just need to get dirty more. And, honestly, because I just don’t do amphibians. But then as I was mowing the yard, getting bombarded by grasshoppers and amazing myself with my phobia control, I saw something jump and slither in the grass. My first thought was snake! but then I thought snakes probably don’t jump, so I stilled the mower, raised the blade and peered into the grass. It was a frog, just the perfect size for my terrarium. And he was sitting so still that I was certain we could get him.
I jumped off of the mower and looked around for Dom or the kids. No luck. So I assured myself that I could grab the frog in my hands and, if I didn’t let my mind really understand what I was doing, I could run to the terrarium and dump the frog into the plants just seconds before a complete mental meltdown. I didn’t like the plan, but it was the only one I had at the moment. I used to catch frogs at my grandma’s house when I was young, and when I was even younger I used to catch horned toads out in the West Texas dust. Where is that girl when I need her??
Just then I looked up toward the house one more time and saw Victoria sleepily peering out at the yard. (The mower must have woken her up. Pity.) I began waving my hands to get her attention, and once she looked at me and recognized that I was trying to say something, I began pointing at the ground, shaping my hands like a jar, and miming the action of scooping something from the ground. She had absolutely no clue what I was doing.
Note to self: If there is ever a family game night where Charades is being played, don’t let Victoria on my team.
Luckily, Dom saw my antics and stopped weed-eating long enough to tell Vic what all my wild waving and jumping meant. (Dom can be on my Charades team any day!) She ran into the house and back out into the yard with the mason jar that had spent so many nights by the back door. I scooped the frog into the jar and Vic and I ran madly back to the patio, with the frog jumping against the glass and my hand the whole way. We slid him into the terrarium and caught our breath. Well, I did mostly, because even carrying the frog in a glass jar gave me the heebie-jeebies. The last time I caught frogs I was 11 years old. I put six baby frogs in a mason jar and accidentally left them on my grandmother’s patio where they sunbathed themselves to death. I hope the fact that this frog has shade, water, and bugs to eat during his entrapment might somehow redeem me.
So, yes, let the headlines read Girly-Girl Catches Frog. I would display a large “S” on my chest, flex my muscles and say, “Bring on the bugs!” but I really don’t mean that. Not at all.