on my bike ride home tonight, on a quiet street near the milwaukee art museum, i nearly ran over a ginormous bullfrog. bigger than any frog i've ever seen, anywhere. ever. including zoos, and canada.
the only frog i've ever seen that was this big was the one in my mom's rock garden 35 years ago and he was made out of some kind of ceramic material and had been painted by my sister-in-law at a magical place in burlington, wisconsin called "off the wall." painting ceramic frogs was big in the 1970's. housewives in burlington would get together on wednesday nights to talk about their husbands and new tupperware and the hottie-mc-hotterson high school senior who clips the lawn every other week, while they would paint all sorts of ceramic things: frogs, roosters, a grizzled old cowboy on a tired looking horse. my mom used to take me along. i loved wednesday nights.
but this frog tonight was not ceramic, he was real. i took a couple of pictures of him. he didn't seem to mind. unfortunately, as far as you know this is a tiny little frog, since there is nothing else in the photo to give perspective. you'll have to trust me. he's the size of a small dog.
there wasn't much traffic, only a car or two every now and then. but i was sure that i was about to see this creature come squirting out at me from under someone's tire.
i biked back down the street – maybe a block or two – frantically looking for a stick. i don't know why, but i didn't want to touch him. sure, i grew up touching frogs, but it's been a while. i eventually found a stick i determined to be long enough for the job, and biked back.
it was dark. i took the bike light off my handlebars, and held it in my mouth as i coaxed the big guy first to the side of the street, then over the curb, and finally up onto the grass, mumbling at him the whole way. "git!" i'd say. "that way, you!" a couple walking by looked at me kinda funny. "i'm saving this frog's life," i said with a bike light in my mouth. they kept walking.
i figure i did save his life, if only for a few minutes. that giant bullfrog, now he owes me big.