Friday, February 25, 2011

mad as a box of frogs

"Good morning," said my husband as I came into the kitchen. "And say good morning to your friend here."

Sleepily, I looked round for the cat. "Where?"

"There, in the corner." He pointed to the nook between the washing machine and the plinth under the kitchen cupboard. A brownish, motionless lump.

My first thought was, "How did the cat manage to crap in such a small space?" and my second was, "It's got legs. And claws. And eyes! IT'S A FROG."

"Oh my goodness. How did that get in?"

He shrugged and went on making his mug of tea. Outside, the cat paddled at the windowpane. "Let me in! It's raining! I'm hungry!"

"I'd better put the frog out, or she'll eat it." Knowing that it was likely to jump if I put a hand on it, I chose an old glass off the shelf.

"Damp the glass," suggested my husband.

So I did. I held it behind the frog, and put a finger in front of its nose. It didn't move, so I pushed it gently. It was cold, heavy, and damp. Suddenly it turned and leapt into the glass, then became immobile again.

With one hand over the top of the glass, I unlocked the back door. The cat rushed in and I went out and tipped the frog onto the grass. It sat so still and unblinking, I wondered if it had died of shock, but no, its throat pulsed with its breathing, so I left it there in the rain-swept garden. And came back indoors and fed the cat.

Of course, the question was, how can a frog get into a locked kitchen? The clue was in the washed-out glass: traces of coal dust. Froggie must have been in the coal bunker; been scooped up by my husband's shovel, and poured with the wet coke into the hod. I'd stoked the fire from that hod before I let out the cat and went to bed. I don't know how many lives a frog has, but she used up two of them last night.

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