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Through the Lens: Traveling with My Frog

By Chuck Clegg - | Oct 6, 2021

We each spend our lives working and striving to do the big things every day. Our jobs, taking care of family and hurrying from here to there. Just going to work every day consumes a large part of our lives. I calculated how many hours I spent traveling to and from the plant in my working career. In thirty seven years, I spent an estimated 8,550 hours traveling. Divide that number of hours by 24 in a day. That means I spent one whole year going back and forth for my job. Just me and my radio and Frog to keep me company as I went to work in good times and bad. My Frog? I never went to work without my friend the frog sitting on my dash. He is one of those “little things” I told you about.

Frog is a plastic green fuzzy bobble head. His head is suspended on a small hook inside the body. That way as I traveled, his head bobbed around. Sometimes he even kept beat with the music. On rainy mornings going to work I would ask Frog, “is it a good day to go to work?” Tapping the brake gently made Frog’s head go up and down indicating it was a good day to work. But, if I didn’t think it was going to be good because the sun was shining and nice, I would turn my steering wheel slightly to the left and then to the right. This action would cause Frog’s head to move left than right indicating, no, it was not a good day to go to work. Did frog ever disagree, of course he did. After 8,550 hours together I learned he sometimes had a mind of his own. We traveled a lot of miles together. In fact, I’ll bet Frog and me have spent more hours on the road than Mary and I. Frog’s favorite saying, “The day will be finer than frog’s hair. Did you ever see the hair on a frog, it’s pretty fine.”

Another small thing, spitting water melon seeds. When I was a kid, over a half a century ago and a little more. Summer time was the time of water melons. Unlike today the green melons were only available in the warm months. On special occasions when the neighborhood was getting together for a cook out, a water melon was sure to be on the menu. After dinner one of the grownups would slice the melon in to wedges and pass them to kids. We would begin eating the melon. Before long someone would spit a seed. Then the challenges started. “I’ll bet no one could spit it as far as me.” Sure enough it started a contest to see who spit a seed the farthest. Then someone would spit a seed on someone else. An then another. Before long we were spitting seeds and pieces of water melon on each other and laughing. Looking back it was a small thing spitting watermelon seeds, but I remember those small seeds fondly that were stuck to the other kids

Did you ever lay in a summer hay field and smell the fresh cut grass gathered in wind rows around you? And after a while you decided to choose a perfect blade of grass. Next you fashioned it into a reed whistle in your hand. Then you blew across the grass blade hoping to make a whistling sound. The harder you tried, the worse the whistle sounded. After a while you began laughing at your silliness laying in the hay field trying to make sounds with a little blade of grass.

I can remember a few times when we’re playing outside and in the distance we could hear the rumblings of thunder. Before long the clouds would begin to roll across the hills from the west. Suddenly buckets of rain would pour down from the clouds. We knew where there was a depression in the black top road near our house. The depression’s hot pavement heated the water creating a natural hot tub. People traveling the road would yell at us, “Get out of the road you kids!” Those passing by had no idea of the little pleasure that black top hot tub held for us kids.

I’ll bet your house had a porch swing back in the day. Before every home had air conditioning, the windows were fitted with screens and the porch had swings and rockers. DO you remember sitting in the swing and making it go higher and higher with each pass. There came a point when you would hear the chain making a creaking sound. You knew the chain links were reaching their limits as it broke. Down would come you and the swing with a great crashing sound. Your parents would rush out of the house to see what had happened. You looked up at them saying, “I don’t know what happened. I was just sitting there reading a book quietly when it fell.” Your dad would look at you with that look as he said, “Un-huh.” A broken swing chain was a little thing, at least to you.

Living along the creek we spend many a summer afternoon swimming and playing in the slow moving waters. In our swimming hole one of the older kids hung a rope swing from a sycamore tree that hung over the water. We kids would make our ways across the creek and take turns swinging out over the water and letting go. As you hit the water, the sounds changed as you were under water. The bubbles made funny sounds as they rushed towards the surface. As you came back up, the sounds of the day light world filled your ears. If you had water in them, it sounded funny. Remember taking your hand and pounding the side of your head to remove the water. As it came out it felt warm flowing from your ear. It was a small thing, but felt good.

One other activity the creek provided was a good place to camp out and night. This activity took all day to prepare for. It required someone’s parent going to town and getting marshmallows so you would not starve. And last but not least, digging for red warms down by the old pond. Come night fall we cast our lines in the dark water and waited for the fish to take hold of our bait. While we waited we told ghost stories and ate marshmallows. Without fail, one of the kids would set their marshmallow on fire and then wave it around trying to extinguish the flame. And on occasions it would fly off the stick, landing on another kid. No big thing. That’s would end the marshmallow roasting for the night.

You know what is really neat about all these things I have told you about, they were small things. Didn’t cost much and still they brought joy to our world. Today everything has to be fast and shiny and take batteries. But, back in my day the little things were just as enjoyable.

The next time you are wondering, ‘what is there to do.’ Go into the yard and find a long blade of grass. Hold it correctly in your hand, then blow gentle across the blade. If you are pure of heart and enjoy the small things, it will begin to vibrate just right, making a sharp whistling sound. And if you don’t get it right the first time, try again, it is a little thing, but enjoyable as I remember it Through the Lens.