by Richard Frye

It was hotter than 400 and 52 hells! Shelby.....my adopted grandchild decided she wanted to do some Yak'n in the Yakette. Well, I really didn't have anything else to do 'cept try to stay cool, so to keep the young'un happy even as hot as it was, I loaded up the Stealth and the Yakette and took off to the lake as that sounded like a good way to get cool.

The water was high and muddy, and I knew fish'n wouldn't be worth a damn, but I had an excellent excuse to get out in one of the boats and splash a little cool water on us.

Shelby has a keen interest in boating and for a 12 year old is a lot of fun to have around. After launching the boats (made her do it all this time with the Yakette), we paddled down to the south end of the lake, got into shallow water to watch the mud swirls as we spooked some carp, and with the water being high as it was, I took her into the back tributaries where I ain't been in a very long time since most of the time that was dry land or a 3" deep swamp. That's where I take the .22 and bushwack a goose for Kaye around Christmas if there ain't too much ice to break through. It's a 700 yard paddle or a 2 mile walk - I'll paddle. I know what you are thinking. Kaye loves animals and all that. But it's different when it don't have a name, and she don't have to see it killed - and she likes to eat goose! Not me - too damn greasy! It just ain't the same according to her like I said if it don't have a name and all like everything else does around here! I hate damn geese! Actually liked them till they started bombing me every time I set out across the lake. Some just don't know when to leave. Must be a global warming coming on ‘cause they hang around all year, 'bout a hundred of 'em! They're learning to stay clear of my boat now - that's the one with the antiaircraft .22!

Now Shelby is an unusual girl and loves to catch any kind of critter that walks, crawls, slithers or flies! Really have to watch that kid! She don't think nothing about picking up any kind of damn snake, crayfish or anything else that might bite, sting or impose some type of bodily harm. When she is out on an excursion...sometimes she just don't think rational! Shelby plays in the school band, is a straight A student and has got more sense than most grownups I ever known - most of the time that is. She's still a delicate little female and does have her moments. Glad I ain't around then!

We landed on a little island from the back side that's too shallow to get into most of the time and had a can of pop, some snack cakes and other junk that kids her age like to munch on. I had a rice cake and a small can of prune juice with wonderful thoughts for the next day! I'll keep them to myself! That's when we saw all these little things scootin’ thru the weeds. I thought it was some kind of bugs at first, but upon closer scrutiny discovered a menagerie - in other words a huge herd of fully developed itsy bitsy tee tiny little bitty ass frogs not even 1/2" long! Oh boy, did she get excited!

"Hey Richard (she calls me Richard), we got anything to put some in? I can take Kaye a bunch of them!"


I figured I'd ended that! I got to thinking to myself - I do that a lot here lately - some of it ain't good! But Kaye don't need anymore damn frogs or anything else I gotta build cases and buy food for! So I mentioned that fact to Shelby. I brought Kaye a bullfrog big as a damn rabbit a few weeks ago when I was fishing down on the creek, so she could put him in "her" goldfish pond out by the steps. I mean that was one big ass frog! Shelby brought her one too, just a little smaller! She finally turned 'em loose at the creek a week or two later cause he wouldn't each Doritos, worms gummy bears! You can see in the pic how absolutely delighted she is! I think she has a mental problem worse than mine!

Kaye loves critters of all walks - especially frogs, dragonflies, etc., 'cept she don't do mice and rats like Shelby! Kaye is terrified of rodents that even resemble a mouse or rat. She don't even like squirrels! Goes back to her childhood days many many years ago. Hope she don't read this. Anyway, she ain't that fond of rabbits neither! That's the only time she yells at Shelby, when Shell brings her a gift of good will and it's a kangaroo mouse or a relative! (Damn I hate that word more than I do geese! (relative) - hers that is! Ain't none of'em got both oars in the water! More on that later!)

The other night Kaye and Shelby and the other grand daughter, Julie, who's 6, took a notion to catch a bunch of tree frogs as well as other frogs and toads around the creek and yard. They were successful and had 5 or 6 tree frogs in a small aquarium, a couple of bullfrogs in the pond and toads around the big bush by the steps after burning up 2 sets of brand new D-cells in my Mag lites. Then at 10 o'clock at night they decides...(I say decides cause they all thought of it at the same time and began a womanly argument amongst the 3 of them as to who thought it up first!).... to dig up the landscape and make a frog place by the Rhoderdindrum bush, right by the steps across the walk from Kaye's pond. "Her" pond is shown behind her in the pic with her and her damn Big Ass Bullfrog. What a man will do to keep grandkids and a wife happy!

Along about 11 the next night (I'm usually in bed by then), a buddy of mine called and wanted to go fishin the next day down at the spillway. I couldn't hear a single word he said because of them damn frogs! Had to shut the door! I din't realize frogs could make so much noise, but when they are practically inside the house you can make for a whopping discovery! They started up again about 4pm the next afternoon, and I had to shut the door again cause I couldn't hear the damn TV. Bout half deaf anyway! Guess it comes with age. That's when the X-Files comes on, and I'm glued to the TV till 6. Comes on again at 5 on another channel. On Friday nights at 8 Eastern, I got to see what Burt Gummer is up to. Course he's out trying to trying to appease the government, protecting the Graboid and all that! There's times I wish we had something like that around here! Mostly when the relatives "drop by"!

My sweet wife Kaye is an animal lover and goes along with Shelby "protecting" and caring for most stuff she brings in when they ought to just leave the damn thing where it is! Kaye has this thing about Box turtles too! Gets everyone she sees off the road. Don't matter if I'm late for a cardiogram test or what, have to stop for the turtle so nobody else will mash it flat when they come around the curve! There's more to the turtle thing too! She had one she called Charlie for a very long time. He loved bologna! Must have been allright for him to eat...he lived a very long time. Maybe I oughta to try it - naw, I hate the stuff! They just ain't no sport in eat'n bologna. I mean look at how it's pronounced, then how it's spelled, not to mention what's in it!

One thing I don't and never will understand is that on Valentines Day I got Kaye a baby guinea pig to help her overcome her fear of something that resembled the unmentionable rodents. To my astonishment, she fell in love with it. Not that she don't have enough critters as it is! Three ducks, a goose, 3 cats, 4 ugly little dogs, plus Morgan the outside dog. That’s 12, same as Shelby. I named him after Capt. Morgan. Those were the good ole days before I had a heart attack. It cured everything! Sure would be nice if it mixed with all those heart pills. Kaye's guinea pig whistles, makes all sorts of odd little critter sounds. I never had one before this one. He's been around for quite a while now and is fully grown..fat as he can be and very lovable. "Ellie Maes" other critters don't seem to mind at all. Dogs, cats, ducks, goose all get along! It is amazing! Had to put my foot down about a goddamn monkey! They look too much like folks you know! She named her new cockapoo Monkey! Anyway, she holds the guinea pig on her chest, and he makes loud purring sounds when she rubs his fuzzy little butt. Hell, I guess I probably would too! (Hell, she don't even sit by me anymore! That's why I like the TEARDROP (trailer). If I feel friskie and got plenty of heart pills she ain't got nowhere to run! Love it!)

While I wuz out in the weeds taking care of a nature thing, Shelby was scurrying around the island gathering itsy bitsy tee tiny little bitty ass frogs and hiding them in the hatch of my boat! When I returned, she told me she'd caught a few little frogs in a coke can and stuck'em in the hatch of the Stealth, and hoped I didn't mind cause there ain't no hatch on the Yakette. I smiled and really didn't mind, ‘cause I know how she is. I'd already seen the little buggers, so I didn't check and look inside the hatch like I should have. Big damn mistake!

We left the serenity of the island and paddled down and beyond the iron bridge till we got to some mild white water. We had fun trying to go upsteam into the rushing current. Not strong enough as to be dangerous, but enough so you couldn't go but so far before it turned you around and sent the Stealth and the Yakette zipping along downstream. She and I both were having a smashing good time as they say in England till I got tired and said it's time to head back. My huffing and puffing made me realize that white water days were only fond memories now! ‘Course I knew that already, but that little thrill brought back a lot of them. We encountered more wildlife on the way back. Ducks, the normal hoard of damn geese, a carp now and then, and a blue heron or two that raise havoc with the baby frog population! I've even see these great birds gulp down a humongus bullfrog as well as some pretty damn good sized fish! Yep, and about the bullfrog, I'm talking about the ones that have legs the size of a big chicken! We're talking over 14 inches long now and that's a helluva lot of froglegs for a bird to swallow!

I took a few pics of Shelby's itsy bitsy tee tiny little bitty ass frogs so you can see just how small they were before I went on my call to nature, and a few pics of where we went. Like I said, din't bother to check the hatch, and when we got home Shelby got called in to eat, clean up her room or something, and I put things away - life jackets, paddles and that sort of stuff. She yelled, "Best boat trip I've been on so far!" as she went inside. Still ain't checked that hatch! Got around to that the next morning to make sure Shelby didn't leave Twinkie wrappers, Animal Cracker boxes, coke cans and other stuff in there for me to clean out! Figured she took care of her couple of itsy bitsy tee tiny little bitty ass frogs too! She's pretty good about that sort of thing.

Good thing I checked, which I did the next morning. (Now don't get me wrong, I love that child dearly, but if I could have got my arthritic hands around her neck I'da killed her for sure!) Must have been at least 125 of her itsy bitsy tee tiny little bitty ass frogs in my hatch jumping all over the place when I took the lid off! Talk about a bitch to catch! I ain't near as fast as I use to be! Found that out real quick! They were sticking to inside top of the hatch that you can't get into to grab 'em, and I couldn't reach 'em with nothin! What pissed me off real good was that SHE (dear sweet grand child) somehow plain forgot to mention the fact that she'd also caught a baby northern watersnake 'bout a foot long and stuck him in hatch too! They get very aggressive and from his dark hiding place in the hatch that I couldn't see, the bastard reached out and nailed me on my little finger as I was trying grab some of those little frog critters. From what I saw after I slung him off and cussed a lot, he had gorged himself on at least 10 of these itsy bitsy tee tiny little bitty ass frogs! I picked him up to make sure he wasn't hurt. He was ok and just sat there beside me watching me curiously as I tried to get those damn frogs out of my boat!

Finally I turned the boat upside down and rinsed'em out with a soft spray from the garden hose, caught the fat little snake and turned him loose in the creek too! I think I got 'em all out! I check the hatch everyday to make sure there ain't none left, and to be sure ain't nothing else in there that she plain forgot to tell me about! They all found a new home in our creek - all 125 of what remained of these itsy bitsy tee tiny little bitty ass frogs and the well fed fat little snake hauled ass downsteam.

Point is, if a kid is interested in stuff like that, take part in it. You'll get mad as hell sometimes; even grandpaws have the right to get pissed once in a while, don't you think? Git'n snake bit's push'n it! Long as it don't show a whole bunch it's alright, and you'll get to laugh about it later or so they tell me! Still wondering about that part. I ain't laugh'in yet! Something is stinking in my boat! There mighta been 126 itsy bitsy tee tiny little bitty ass frogs not counting what the snake et!

Anyway Chuck, I'll see ya'll in Canada come Sept.

Later, Richard