Entries from December 2014 ↓

Fred the Christmas tree frog

Evidently I have an affinity for amphibians. Let me explain. Some early, early fond memories involve hiking up Aptos Creek with my various siblings and cousins. Mid-sixties and the creek was still a viable stream of life. Frogs, snakes, salamanders and even trout and salmon traversed this little waterway behind our summer house. On our summer stays our parents, Aunt’s and Uncle’s would expel the children in the morning with an admonishment, “and don’t come back until….”.

Our choices, as I recall were either to walk the creek to the ocean or head upstream and explore. The beach was beautiful and those stories should be told as well but a recent event makes me think of the amphibians.

Of course many of my stories would start with my sister Kathy, my protector and patron saint.

Kathy loves nature in every form. Plants, trees, rocks, animals, birds, snakes and amphibians. She was constantly adopting critters she would somehow capture and may have even coined the phrase, “it followed me home, can I keep it?”. My parents were never a match for her pleading and my father would often even help build some sort of home to hold whatever Kathy had brought home. I remember once her and my sister Susie tried to catch wild birds by placing food on the floor of our garage and then quickly shutting the door. Unfortunately the caught a wild rabbit that was quite angry and gave them a good scare setting him free. But the hikes up the creek were really special. The cool water, the sandy creek bed, the light through the trees, the logs to climb, the tunnels to holler in to hear our echoes and frogs, salamanders and snakes. It seems that was always the prize, to catch a garter snake. Sometimes they would be quite small but others would be pretty big and very beautiful with red markings. The little ones would slither and squirm around your hands and the bigger ones would actually coil around your arm.

So as stated, my affinity for amphibians goes back a ways. I have already written about my neighbor’s salamanders, ( http://blog.delmargalleries.com/marion-and-her-salamanders/) and now I would like to tell you my latest amphibian story, Fred the Christmas tree frog.


My wife Amy was nice enough to go it alone on getting our Christmas tree this year. She found a small inexpensive tree and brought it home and put it on the front porch. It stayed there for a few days while she waited for me to get the ladder and pull down all the boxes of decorations. Once down, Amy avoided the usual yearly pain I provide when asked to help decorate the tree and put up the lights by recruiting our friend Dana to help. It was great, I came home from work and the outside lights were up and the tree was decorated and my wife and I hadn’t had a single silly argument. What a great way to start the holiday season. That evening after dinner Amy and I sat down in the family room with the Christmas tree lights twinkling and turned on the t.v. It was then we first heard it, ribbit, ribbit….ribbit.

Startled, Amy asked, “What the hell is that? ”

“I believe that would be a frog in your Christmas tree” I calmly replied.

“Well get it out of there” My wife shouted, her voice rising in concern.

“Um….how do you think I would be able to find a tiny frog on a decorated Christmas tree?” I replied.

“I don’t care. Just get it” Amy insisted.

This conversation continued and while I found it funnier and funnier that we had a frog in our tree and Amy was finding it more and more concerning. She insisted that we must find the frog and remove it and even enlisted young Thomas our tenant to get the flashlight and search the tree. But as previously stated, it is pretty unlikely you would ever be able to locate a tiny frog on a decorated tree.

And so Amy succumbed to the fact that we had a living ornament in our holiday tree and I of course named him Fred and he would greet us a couple of times a day with his boisterous croaking and we would respond in kind, “Hello Fred”.

Now Amy being Amy soon became concerned that Fred had been living in our tree for at least a week and wondered what he had been surviving on? He must be starving. We must provide for our Christmas tree frog.

I was now assigned frog food duty and found myself out in my shop wiping away cobwebs for dead flies and bugs to offer up as sustenance for our new friend Fred.

I was fine with this folly but realized it was a charade that we would actually be able to keep Fred alive.

But Fred the frog had one more chapter to tell.

It had been close to two weeks we had lived with Fred when Amy once again was alarmed.

“Michael” she shouted, “did you hear that? He’s moved.”


“Fred has moved. He is out in the kitchen. You have to find him. I was o.k. with him in the tree but he is now in the kitchen. You have to find him.” Amy’s voice finding the level of energy that makes me laugh but also impossible to ignore.

“Honey, once again, I am not sure if we will ever find Fred. He is a tiny little frog and could be anywhere. “

Luckily Amy was on her way to a Christmas concert at a local church so I knew Amy would probably calm down about Fred once she got home.

But after Amy left and I was in the living room watching t.v. Sure enough I heard Fred. Croaking loudly from somewhere across the kitchen. Now this is no little journey for a tiny frog, it is over the dinning area where our large lab Lucca sleeps and would be more than willing to eat a little frog should it hop by. So I get up and try to locate Fred and on the wall of the kitchen is a ceramic vase painted with roses, with a small round opening for very small bouquets. I peer inside and think I see something, I take it off the wall and shake it over the sink and out comes Fred. A tiny little frog. I couldn’t believe after all this time there he was, looking bright and healthy. I quickly captured him in a washcloth and took him to his new outdoor home in the backyard.

When Amy got home I told her the good news and was sort of sad I hadn’t kept Fred around so she could meet him. But the best part is, the next night Amy and I were in the backyard in the evening and all of a sudden we hear, “ribbit, ribbit. ribbit”.

Yes Fred the Christmas tree frog was still around.