no need to buy two cat beds if your kittens are best friends :’)
Frogs fall out of my mouth when I talk. Toads, too.
It used to be a problem.
There was an incident when I was young and cross and fed up parental expectations. My sister, who is the Good One, has gold fall from her lips, and since I could not be her, I had to go a different way.
So I got frogs. It happens.
“You’ll grow into it,” the fairy godmother said. “Some curses have cloth-of-gold linings.” She considered this, and her finger drifted to her lower lip, the way it did when she was forgetting things. “Mind you, some curses just grind you down and leave you broken. Some blessings do that too, though. Hmm. What was I saying?”
I spent a lot of time not talking. I got a slate and wrote things down. It was hard at first, but I hated to drop the frogs in the middle of the road. They got hit by cars, or dried out, miles away from their damp little homes.
Toads were easier. Toads are tough. After awhile, I learned to feel when a word was a toad and not a frog. I could roll the word around on my tongue and get the flavor before I spoke it. Toad words were drier. Desiccated is a toad word. So is crisp and crisis and obligation. So are elegant and matchstick.
Frog words were a bit more varied. Murky. Purple. Swinging. Jazz.
I practiced in the field behind the house, speaking words over and over, sending small creatures hopping into the evening. I learned to speak some words as either toads or frogs. It’s all in the delivery.
Love is a frog word, if spoken earnestly, and a toad word if spoken sarcastically. Frogs are not good at sarcasm.
Toads are masters of it.
I learned one day that the amphibians are going extinct all over the world, that some of them are vanishing. You go to ponds that should be full of frogs and find them silent. There are a hundred things responsible—fungus and pesticides and acid rain.
When I heard this, I cried “What!?” so loudly that an adult African bullfrog fell from my lips and I had to catch it. It weighed as much as a small cat. I took it to the pet store and spun them a lie in writing about my cousin going off to college and leaving the frog behind.
I brooded about frogs for weeks after that, and then eventually, I decided to do something about it.
I cannot fix the things that kill them. It would take an army of fairy godmothers, and mine retired long ago. Now she goes on long cruises and spreads her wings out across the deck chairs.
But I can make more.
I had to get a field guide at first. It was a long process. Say a word and catch it, check the field marks. Most words turn to bronze frogs if I am not paying attention.
Poison arrow frogs make my lips go numb. I can only do a few of those a day. I go through a lot of chapstick.
It is a holding action I am fighting, nothing more. I go to vernal pools and whisper sonnets that turn into wood frogs. I say the words squeak and squill and spring peepers skitter away into the trees. They begin singing almost the moment they emerge.
I read long legal documents to a growing audience of Fowler’s toads, who blink their goggling eyes up at me. (I wish I could do salamanders. I would read Clive Barker novels aloud and seed the streams with efts and hellbenders. I would fly to Mexico and read love poems in another language to restore the axolotl. Alas, it’s frogs and toads and nothing more. We make do.)
The woods behind my house are full of singing. The neighbors either learn to love it or move away.
My sister—the one who speaks gold and diamonds—funds my travels. She speaks less than I do, but for me and my amphibian friends, she will vomit rubies and sapphires. I am grateful.
I am practicing reading modernist revolutionary poetry aloud. My accent is atrocious. Still, a day will come when the Panamanian golden frog will tumble from my lips, and I will catch it and hold it, and whatever word I spoke, I’ll say again and again, until I stand at the center of a sea of yellow skins, and make from my curse at last a cloth of gold.
Terri Windling posted recently about the old fairy tale of frogs falling from a girl’s lips, and I started thinking about what I’d do if that happened to me, and…well…
You know how if you go through years and years of “best science fiction short stories”, every so often you find some short story you’ve never heard of before, but it’s just amazing and brilliant and leaves you wondering why you never read stories with that plot before? This is one of those.
this made me smile.
i’m still smiling.
cutest most supportive dad :’) every time i post pictures of animals in the field he tries to guess what they are and he’s so proud of himself when he gets them right
the tiniest angriest beeb
father is unsurprised at my herp antics
my cats are a force of pure benevolence and innocence and light
dogs don’t know any better :’( be strong my feathery friend
i’m sorry i’ll gather my things and leave
Just got back from an incredible weekend working as a field assistant in the Atchafalaya Basin. My supervisor and I collected dozens of cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) and swabbed them for chytrid fungus and corticosteroid analysis.
Other than the mosquitoes (which were THE SIZE OF PTERODACTLYS), it was a fantastic time and I got to do a lot of really cool stuff! The tripod in the third picture was our “weather station”—we used it to get temperature, wind, and humidity data for the site. We also collected solar radiation data from model frogs which had been left at the site all summer.
I am covered in mud and mosquito bites but so, so happy.
stranded in the middle of the Atchafalaya Basin with a flat tire and the closest help is three hours away
buckle in homies it’s gonna be a long night
WAIT WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW TENRECS EXISTED IN THE PET TRADE
I think a lot of ball python breeders are traveling down the same path that English Bulldog and Scottish Fold breeders once did. It makes me really uncomfortable.
I don’t know enough about the health of the existing scaleless BPs though so I really can’t condemn that particular morph as of right now. For all I know, they could turn out to be perfectly healthy snakes. It’s the idea behind the whole thing that I’m not a fan of (i.e. mass-breeding animals that may have harmful genetic conditions with the goal of making money off them).
I bristle at the idea of any kind of animal breeding though so I’m probably not the best person to ask. At the very least, I don’t think anyone should be breeding pet-quality animals (no matter what kind) for any reason.
Captive snake overpopulation isn’t a huge problem yet but it’s heading there. Only healthy animals which are excellent examples of their type should be bred, and even that should be done under careful regulation.
I really hate to see people breeding unhealthy or low-quality animals in the name of making a quick buck (although there are certainly tons of responsible breeders out there, it does happen—you can tell that much by walking through any reptile expo). As anyone can see by the massive problems in the dog breeding world, it doesn’t lead to anything nice.
But nobody knows for sure yet if the scaleless BPs will be healthy adults or not, so only time will tell how i feel about that morph in particular.