b Papa Dog's Blog: Ribbit Quack Moo

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ribbit Quack Moo

This morning, giving Baby Dog yet one more dramatic reading of Ten Little Ladybugs, I got to the part where, when there are only two little ladybugs left, along comes a frog. As is customary at this point, I embellished the frog’s entrance with a dramatic “rrrrribbit.” This usually gets a smile from Baby Dog. It’s not as sure-fire as the “quack quack” I use when there are three little ladybugs and along comes a duck, but it usually gets the job done. It struck me then that Baby Dog has never actually seen a frog and has no reason to connect the “rrrrribbit” sound therewith. A second thought soon followed: when is she ever going to see a frog around here? I can’t remember seeing a single one in the twenty years (off and on) I’ve lived in Berkland. I mentioned this to Mama Dog and she said, “I was thinking that very thing yesterday.” We do that a lot. There’s a wavelength or something.

I hardly had a bucolic upbringing – I hail from the suburbs – but I have vivid and somewhat guilty memories from childhood summers at the cottage when my sisters and I would hunt down and catch frogs. We’d put them in a bucket with some water and they’d be our frogs for the day. Then we’d let them go. I say “guilty” memories not just because we were messing with poor little frogs who’d never hurt anybody but because on at least one occasion I think I forgot to let them out of the bucket and 30+ years later I’m nagged by the suspicion it might have been their doom. Did my sister let them out? I don’t know. Did I look in the bucket again that summer? Beats me. It’s a frustratingly incomplete childhood memory, just a vague but unsubstantiated sense of maybe having done something terrible. I suppose, now that I write this, what I’m really doing when I bemoan the lack of urban frog-catching opportunities is wishing on Baby Dog the opportunity to have such a sense of possibly unjustified guilt somewhere down the road. But, hell – it was fun.*

Today, seeking to add a little pastoral balance to Baby Dog’s early days, we went with the Pirates to The Little Farm in Berkeley’s Tilden Park. We lay blankets down under a shady tree and let our little ones crawl/roll (in Baby Dog’s case) or toddle (in Baby Pirate’s case) around the grounds until they felt at home. Then we took them round to see the moocows and the piggies and the billygoats, and best of all the duckies. They don’t look much like the duckies in the books or on the cloth blocks or in the various other toys – they’re not yellow and they lack much in the way of anthropomorphisation. Nor does the noise they make really sound like “quack quack” – it’s more like “gok gok.” Still, when I held Baby Dog up over the fence and pointed at the web-footed critters and said, “Look, duckies! Quack quack!” she chortled and pounded the fence in delight. Later, she seemed even more taken with the calves, who bestirred themselves to dine in the central area of their pen where Baby Dog could get a full view of them. The mother cow seemed almost unfathomable to her. I don’t think Baby Dog had any idea there were animals so much bigger than Doggy Dog.

Mama Dog asked me on the way home if I had hated too much being out in the sun with the dirt and the bugs and the vegetation and the smell of cowshit shifting with the wind. I said no, partly because the tree really did provide hella shade but mostly because, however horrific the blazing sun, seeing your child see a ducky or a moocow** for the first time is really a wonderful thing. We didn’t see any froggies. Probably just as well for them.
*I know – not for the frog.
**I will remain unapologetic for my use of words such as “ducky” and “moocow.” But just for shits ‘n’ giggles, I’m going to out Papa Pirate, who at one point during the afternoon referred to an abrasion suffered by his daughter as a “boo-boo.” Yes, we have gone there.


Blogger Judy said...

We used to find "mud frogs" - they were black and came out after a good rain at the beach - never more than 1/2 inch in length. We used to keep them for several hours as pets or until one relieved himself in our hands. We loved those frogs!

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of week we were cleaning the shit out of the third paddock, when I spotted the leopard frog. Every night up at Ursula's, you can hear the spring peepers.

paul Anonymous

6:06 PM  

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