For so much of my life I have been completely afraid of frogs. The fear was passed to me from my mother. As a young teen I watched her nearly break her neck on the cement patio when a small green frog jumped onto her shoulder. I was sure by her reaction that frogs must be as venomous as snakes with teeth as plentiful as a shark. As she flailed her body across the patio straight into a wall, knees first then kissed the brick, I prayed she would get the animal off of her in time.
The frog finally jumped from Mom's shoulder onto the glass patio door which my mother was desperately trying to open to join me in the living room safe from the killer. She finally made it inside, closed the door tightly and locked it to keep the monster out. She quickly tried to compose herself in front of her young impressionable daughter. But her hair was a mess and she was bleeding from her chin and both knees. I don’t remember her saying anything, she just walked towards the bathroom I assumed to clean up. She came back into the living room and sat on the couch with me as she opened and applied band aids to the wounds. Just as she finished, she looked up and saw that dangerous green frog on the glass staring at her. I recall my mother saying, “I’ll show you”. She got up in a fury and retrieved the broom from the kitchen. When the glass door slung open the frog went flying but my mother found him. I’m not going to tell you what happened next, it’s too gruesome for me to repeat.
During my very first adventure to Africa I learned that not only are mammals in plentiful quantities and a wide variety of species there, Africa also has over a hundred species of frogs. I began to get used to them being around especially at night when they would migrate towards the light of my tent or hut to eat bugs. My guides assured me they were neither venomous nor deadly. But as any girly girl will tell you, it’s hard to come to grips with a frog.
I was forced to get that feeling under control during an otherwise peaceful boat ride in the Okavango Delta.
My guide and I were slithering along the shallow waters of the floodplain in a mokoro – carved out tree trunk boat - cutting through reeds along the way to nowhere in particular when from the sky fell a tiny green frog that landed on and stuck to my bare forearm facing me. I froze. I couldn’t run from him. I was in a precarious boat floating on crocodile and hippopotamus infested water. I couldn’t yell. What if lion were right around the corner? My only option was to face him and make peace.
He was positioned facing me with his back end towards my hand staring me straight in the eyes. I said, out loud, “You are welcome to sit there but please don’t jump in my face.”
As if I were the frog whisperer and he understood what I said, he turned around; scooted around really, it took him several little steps on my arm to get himself situation just right, facing the front of the boat then he kind of sat down. I could feel his chest against my arm. He was cold feeling, but I don’t think he was wet. And he wasn’t slimy I was surprised to find out after hearing my mother call her attacker a slimy bastard.
After a while I forgot the little frog was on my arm until much later when I guess he reached his destination. He readied himself for the jump raising his chest from my arm. Without so much as thank you for the ride or even a glance back he jumped off. I actually missed him after he was gone.
Today, I am still surprised when I see a frog but try to enjoy them a bit realizing now that the real harm in frogs comes from trying to get away from them not the actual frog himself. I took a photo of this striking little fellow that came to hang out on my hut one year. But let’s not kid ourselves. If he would have jumped onto me while I was getting this shot, I promise you I too would have called him a slimy bastard and had to clean my wounds from the escape.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.