Rye Reflections

July 2005 Features

Manny's Big Day

A quiet day on a lily pad winds up in front of a gasping gathering

Hank McFarland

It was my kind of day, that’s for sure.  With the sun beaming down out of a cloudless sky, warming my body, and no wind to ripple the water and jiggle my lily pad, I was as close to frog heaven as I had ever been.

Not only that, but there was a new crop of salt-water mosquitoes that had recently hatched.  Many of them were on their maiden flight when they passed just a little too close to my well-chosen perch. It only took a flick of my sticky tongue to bring them to grief.  There’s nothing like the taste of tender young mosquitoes, and I was sure enjoying myself.

The only thing to disturb my day was the occasional racket of one of those dang golf carts sputtering by.  Each cart held two humanoids, most of them dressed in shorts to show off their bony legs, and had leather bags attached to the back of the cart, each bag filled with sticks.  Once in a while one of the carts would stop close to the pond and a humanoid would get out, take a stick out of his bag, and swing wildly at a round white ball nearby.  The result of most of those swings was mud and dirt flying into my pond and clouding the water. Sometimes the ball came too.  After a few loud comments, the humanoid would return to the cart and chug away.  My serenity was back.

Then I heard a new sound.  It was excited words coming from what appeared to be two very young humanoids, approaching my pond carrying nets.

“Look, there’s one!” shouted the tallest of the humanoids.  It was pointing right at me.  I had no time to react.  Before I knew it, I was caught, wafting through the air surrounded by netting.

“Look at the legs on that frog.  He will sure be a champion jumper,” said one of my captors. I couldn’t believe my ears. “Jumper?”  I had never jumped anywhere and had never wanted to.  I guess I must have lost it for a while, because the next thing I knew I was in a huge field, filled with large and small humanoids talking animatedly with each other.  There were dogs, also, and I was beginning to feel a bit nervous.  I glanced around, hoping to see Watson, the celebrity dog, feeling that he could help me out of my predicament, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Looking around, I saw I was not the only frog.  There were many others, all surrounded by excited humanoids.  It looked like they were preparing for some sort of competition.

My captors seemed to be having an argument.  We’ll call him “Hoppy!” the tall one declared.

Oh my, not Hoppy, I thought to myself.

“No way,” the smaller one replied.  “I think he looks like a big hitter.  Let’s call him Manny.”

I didn’t get the connection, but Manny sure sounded better than Hoppy, and Manny it was, as the taller humanoid quickly agreed that I looked like a Manny.

Suddenly a hush came over the crowd.  It appeared the competition was about to begin.

The short humanoid picked me up and began an earnest nose-to-nose conversation.  “Manny,” he said, “this is your big day.  You are going to be in a jumping contest.”

I stared back at him, unblinking, and said nothing.

“If you win,” he said, “I will share my ice cream with you.”

Ice cream!  Why would I want ice cream?  Some tender young mosquitoes would be fine, but ice cream?  Where was this silly humanoid coming from?

The crowd gathered around closely now.  Frog # 1 was ready to jump.  He was a big dude.  Someone said he was brought in from North Hampton to make us Rye frogs look bad.

His humanoid trainer placed him on the starting line and waited.  Nothing happened.  After a short time the trainer poked him on his back with his finger. “Jump!” he commanded, and Frog #1 leapt into the air.

“Not bad!” someone in the crowd declared. “Two feet, eleven inches.”

It looked pretty good to me.  I doubted I could do as well.

Frog #2 was brought in.  He looked angry.  I was sure he would make a huge jump, probably to show up that North Hampton ringer.  When placed on the starting line he needed no encouragement.  He hunched down on his hind feet and then hurled himself forward.

“Wow!” shouted someone behind me.  “Three feet, four inches!" came the call.

My captor put me on the ground for a moment, and I looked around to see if I could make a fast exit.  All I could see in every direction were humongous humanoid feet.  Better not chance it, I decided.

I watched intently as several other frogs made their leap for fame.

One did a funny twist in mid air and landed on his side. "Disqualified!" announced that same stern voice that had been giving results.

Another tall and skinny frog made a really great leap, but he did a double somersault before he came down and lost a lot of distance.

"Now it’s our turn,” my captor announced.  He picked me up and brought me to the starting line.

Now, I have never considered myself much of a competitor.  In fact, until being taken against my will from my beautiful pond on the golf course, I didn’t know there was any such thing as competition.  But I have to admit I did feel my juices flowing.

“Come on, Manny!” my humanoid captor was pleading. “Let’s show them all up.  You can do it, Manny.  Please!”

How could I resist?  I decided right then and there that I was going to win that competition.  When I went into my crouch, I could feel the power coursing through my legs.  When I released, I thought I must have wings as I soared skyward.  I could hear the collective gasp go through the gathered throng, and when I hit the ground, I did so with such force that I toppled forward and did a complete flip.

The humanoids clapped and danced as my jump was announced.  “Four feet, seven inches!”

After that there was no time for any ice cream.  But what did I care?  First there was a short celebration with all the humanoids smiling and cheering.

Next came my release.  That's right.  My captors were so happy with me that they carried me back to my pond and the golf course and gently placed me in the water.

If you're a golfer, look me up some time.  I'm the frog with the gold medal around his neck.

July 7, 2005



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