Down in the green meadow near a large lake in the Deep South lived a family of frogs. They were not the typical toad frogs that one would find hopping around just about anywhere. These were a family of American Bullfrogs. There was the father bullfrog, named Herbert, his wife Gladys and their six children. Herbert spent most of his time searching for food to feed his ever-growing family. Gladys spent most of her time teaching the little ones how to search for food for themselves and the most important thing was how to avoid the GIG!
The gig was a very long pole and on the end of it were three long pointed arrows that were as sharp as a razor. As soon as the young ones could swim well, Gladys began to teach them about the dreadful gigs. In the Deep South where they lived the men folk nearby loved to go hunting for food as well. It was not all for rabbits, deer, or bears either. These southern folk loved to go frog giging and bring home a huge barrel of frogs to eat.They loved to eat frogs because the meat on the legs of the frogs taste just like chicken and they loved fried chicken too. Many friends of Herbert and Gladys had seen the light from the boat and had just waited too long to dive into the deep waters. They met their death when the sharp tool of death plunged into them sticking the sharp arrows deep inside their bellies. They were taken back to the farm and their legs cut off and fried in a big frying pan. Herbert knew this to be true for he had seen it with his own eyes. Needless to say, he did not want any of his family to meet their death in this dreadful way.
As the days went by, Gladys sat every day by the edge of the lake. She was busy teaching all the little ones how to avoid the deadly night lights and the deadly gig. All the children were very attentive but one. This one happened to be named Oscar!
Now Oscar was a very hyper bullfrog and could not seem to find anything to keep his attention for very long.
“AH! This is too dang boring!” He whispered to his younger sister. “I’ve heard this song and dance thing for years. I think I’ll slide on out of here and see what is happening on the other side of the lake. I’m not afraid of any gig. Why I’m far too fast for any mortal man to catch me”. He scoffed.
With this, he made his get-a-way very quietly without a single ripple in the water. His lean long body glided freely across the water. Each time his hands would leap forward and his hind legs would give a push against the water. He was dark green in color so it was rather hard to be seen while swimming especially if he made his leaps beneath the surface of the water. All one might see were his two big eyes shining upon the surface of the water.
“I’m desperate to swim as far as I can and see what is out in this big world for me!” He bubbled under the water’s surface. “I’m the oldest and smartest child. I’m going to be looking for me a companion for my heart is full of love. I’m just a hopeless romantic and I need to make my own place in this lake. It’s not so hard! I’ve been with my father and he filled me in on all the things a male is to do. You know, all the things about the birds and bees.” He mumbled to himself.
And so it came to be that Oscar left his happy family to seek his fortune and to find happiness. He would sit in the sun everyday and catch flies with his long sticky coated tongue. If he had a good day he would catch some beetles or bugs of sorts. He wanted to catch like his father had before him. He had seen his father bring down a bat once. If Dad can do it, so can I, he thought to himself. Puffing up his chest he let out a deep b-a-r-o-o-u-p sound and swan deep into the water.
Over the weeks with all his catches going straight to his stomach he grew longer and longer. His legs were about six inches long extending from his five-inch body. He would flex his muscles as he swam by all the girls and bat his big green eyes hoping to impress a few of them.
Lying in the sun one afternoon in the warm water he fell asleep. His mind drifted slowly back to his father and the things he had taught him. In the distance he could hear the sound of a boat quietly moving in his direction. Huge lights were searching the waters and voices were muffled. It was Mr. Snipples and some of his friends hunting for some big bullfrogs to fry. Their search lights slowly moved along the banks of the lake. He could see some of the men standing with the long forked sticks all drawn back ready to pierce the first thing that moved. Horror swept over him like a mighty whirlwind. He gasped for more air. His legs seemed to be paralyzed and he could not move. What was he to do? How was he to escape the gig if he could not move? He let out a giant burp and anxiously thrashed his body about. His eyes popped open into the bright sunlight.
“Whew! That was some dream! Why my body is as nervous as can be. I’m gonna have to be more careful. I haven’t found myself a girlfriend yet and here I am dreaming of my fate!” He signed in relief. “I really need to get on the ball here! I could die before I ever know how real love feels!” He rolled his big eyes as he had seen his father do when romancing his mother.
It was night at the lake. You could hear the baritone sounds of the male frogs calling to the females in their courting rituals. It sounded like many mooing cows. The deep jug-a -rum sounds continued all through the night as the males tried feverishly to win their favorite female. Oscar was right in the middle of them all. It was imperative now for him to find love. The dream of the day was a wake up call for him. No longer would he swim around showing off his sleek body to all the girls. Tonight was to be his night of romance. He would find his precious bullfrog before daybreak. So the mating game continued all through the night. Oscar found his true love Franswella.
Day by day Oscar’s love grew for his beloved Franswella. He caught all sorts of tadpoles, and flies for her to dine upon. He gathered clover flowers to line her bed and sang to her with his deep baritone voice. All was well in paradise until one hot night in the month of July. It had been dreadfully hot that day. All the frogs remained down in the deeper water where it was much cooler. Oscar would wait until evening to go look for food against the wishes of Franswella. ” I really don’t have a good feeling about you going outside tonight” Franswella croaked. “I’m not terribly hungry and we could wait until tomorrow to search for food!” She explained batting her long eyelashes in his direction. Oscar would hear none of her rantings. He was the man and he would go search for food. Men were suppose to be the decision makers and he was making this one.
He sat perched on the side of the bank as still as could be. Not even his eyes rolled. He was on the hunt for food.
It wasn’t long until he caught the glimpse of a fat juicy water beetle. He began to perform his orienting bodily rotation ending with his head aimed right at the bug. He made three quick leaps with his back legs. Once within striking distance, Oscar began to emit his feeding strike. With his eyes closed, he lunged forward with his huge mouth opened. His fleshy mucous coated tongue reached out and quickly snared the bug. His jaws continued their forward travel engulfing his prey while the jaws continued their forward travel to bite in close proximity to his preys location just as his tongue retracted back into his mouth. The bug attached and was swallowed. A huge grin spread across his green slimy face.
“Now one for Franswella.” He croaked. This time he spotted a mouse coming down for a drink of water. Quick as lightning he leaped toward the mouse and with his front arms he stuffed the mouse into his mouth. Quickly he dove under the water to drown the mouse and save Franswella’s evening meal. No mouse can breathe under water, he thought and Franswella’s meal will be ready momentarily.
Now Oscar was so busy trying to wine and dine his lovely lady he forgot to keep an eye on the lake. Before he knew it the ripples of the waves were causing disturbances everywhere. Perhaps he should take a quick look, he thought. Dropping the mouse in Franswells’a bed he swam quickly to the surface of the water. The bright lights blinded him. He could see absolutely nothing at all. Should he swim or not, he wandered? Should he just close his eyes and be still? What to do? His legs would not move and his mind went blank. The gig pierced his leg sending horrendous pain all through his body. He felt the ripping of his skin as the gig was pulled back into the boat. Fortunately he was not attached. They had missed their catch!
Bleeding profusely he returned to his nest. For weeks Franswella bound his leg with weeds and clover always hoping Oscar would be able to walk as before. She pampered him and fed him as if he were a small bullfrog. He loved all the attention but he didn’t like the way his scarred leg looked. He was only half the man he used to be, he thought and all because he was careless.
“A man has to keep his priorities in order”, He groaned. “You can’t let love get in the way of self- preservation!” He continued hoping Franswella was listening to his every word.
“Franswella! I saw my father passed right before my very eyes that night!” He exclaimed with bated breath. I saw that awful three-pronged gig and I will never make that mistake again. From now on my eyes will be glued to the lake, food or no food!” He whined in a pitiful voice. “Bugs come and go but the gig is forever!”
Now if you travel into the Deep South in the middle of summer and you visit Mr. Snipples Lake to do some fishing. You will find as the sun goes down many bullfrogs will come out and make their mating sounds. However you will not hear the voice of Oscar for he is still grossly scarred but much wiser about the mighty evil GIG! Jug a rum! Jug a rum!
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved.
Question for children: What is a gig?