You sometimes hear people describe themselves as a “dog person” or a “cat person.” While I love dogs and cats and just about every other kind of animal, when it really comes down to it, I’m a frog person. I’ve always had a thing for frogs, though it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve figured out where it originated and how to use it to my advantage.
Some of my fondest memories involve wandering through the neighborhood when I was four and five years old, digging around through the mud and muck and dead leaves to find frogs and toads in our neighbors’ window wells. I’d put them in my white baby buggy with the lace sun shade, which was usually full of dirt and water, and take them home, always very proud of my catch for the day. My favorite stuffed animal was a frog prince with a yellow felt crown.
When my parents got divorced – I was just about to start first grade – we moved into an apartment with a concrete patio that overlooked some woods. Late at night, I’d sneak out of my bedroom to peek at the tiny tree frogs that would come up on the porch to catch the bugs that were drawn to the porch light.
When I look back on those years, I don’t have any recollection of how hard it must have been missing my father. I was daddy’s girl, though all I really remember are the frogs and toads.
It wasn’t until years later, when I was in my 40s, that I rediscovered my affinity for amphibians and bought myself a White’s Tree Frog. As we walked out of the pet store, I surprised myself by naming him “Buddy” immediately, instantly recalling that it was what I had called my frog and toad friends as a child. “Hey, little buddy,” I’d say to them, kissing their heads. (Yes, I’ve literally kissed a lot of frogs and toads in my lifetime.) It brought tears to my eyes as we got into the car and the memories came flooding back. I had a frog! Yay for me! I felt like a five year old with no cares in the world.
Over the last seven years, with Buddy in his tank in our dining room, I’ve immersed myself in fond memories of my childhood.
Throughout my living space, there are frogs. Antique cast iron frog door stops, vintage Chinese snuff bottles adorned with frogs, paintings of frogs, three-legged money frogs (to help with our financial chi, of course!), a stylized frog lamp…the list goes on. We’ve even dug a small pond in our backyard, where we’ve grown a few bullfrogs from tadpoles. They warm my heart and I’m drawn to them like some people are drawn to puppies. Just looking at them brings me joy.
Fortunately, my husband is a patient and compassionate man. He tolerates my frog fetish well. In fact, it’s allowed him to bring to light his affection for steam trains. Starting with coffee mugs and antique toy train sets, he’s bringing them back, enjoying the love he has had for them since he was a boy. Between the two of us, we’re surrounded by things we love that make us feel happy. And it is good.
What about you? Do you have any symbols of your childhood memories that make you feel happy?