The sounds from our screened porch were connected to the sounds of my earliest memories of summer when I slept in a small double bed with my maternal grandmother while a cheap oscillating fan turned slowly from side to side as it valiantly tried to cool us in the hot humidity of an East Texas heat a thousand miles away from South Carolina, a heat that would not be relieved by opening every window on the porch where we slept or the random whisper of cool air from the small oscillating fan made by Westinghouse. The sheets were always clean but never actually cool.
I never trusted the sheets anyway after discovering a scorpion hiding between them one night.
But it was the sound of the frogs around our pool here on Cardinal Drive – particularly after a rain – that drew me to those hot muggy nights of Grimes County, Texas where I was raised. My grandmother’s wooden house made from a retail catalog blueprint had many design flaws, but its one awesome feature which had nothing to do with the design really, was the magical pond (or tank, as we called it in East Texas) behind her house.
The tank was the focal point of my only-child imagination play stories during the day, but it was the tank’s music of those summer nights I hope will never be erased from my memory. Specifically, it was the frogs, or bull frogs as my grandmother used to call them just before we drifted off to sleep. The low guttural sounds were always behind the house and were somewhat subdued until every light was turned off at night. But then, those frogs got louder and louder until they hit a mighty crescendo. My grandmother and I laughed out loud when we heard them.
The frogs who live in our backyard on Cardinal Drive are rarely as raucous as the bull frogs in my tank in Richards – I think they are smaller frogs. But occasionally I hear one of those loud guttural sounds looking for something, probably safer water supplies, and I am transported to different days. To a grandmother who guided me with her wisdom and love. I was blessed with a loving eccentric family who in the end gave me what they could – so much more than I realized.
This morning, however, a medium size solitary frog stared at me from our screened porch after he unsuccessfully jumped against the screen to flee. He looked at me as if to say, I survived the nightmare of your chemically treated swimming pool but hopped into your screen porch jail through a door that was slightly ajar. And now, woe is me. I can’t figure out how to escape.
Never fear, I whispered. I stepped outside to get my pool scooper with the mesh frog retriever. I brought it back to the porch to fetch the frog who hadn’t moved. I carefully prodded the frog to get him to jump onto the rim of the scooper and hoisted him to safety on the deck.
I swear this little guy looked suspiciously like the one I rescued from the pool skimmer earlier this week. Seriously?
Regardless, I know we’ll hear him singing with his buddies tonight – we’ve had a summer rain this afternoon. The frog choir will rock on when darkness envelops them, and I will remember my grandmother’s laughter with a longing deep in my heart.