Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 04.18.05
Quebec City


Ah yes, Spring cometh and frogs, too

It's a time for rain and mud. Of coming warmth and melting snow.

It's a time of growth and renewal. A time for frogs.

Yes indeed, while this time of year a young man's fancy may turn to love, mine turns to frogs.

I've always loved frogs. As a youngster growing up in a semi-rural farming area I would don my wellies and trod off to the nearest pond at the first sign of warmth.

Along with several of my friends I would scour the shoreline of just about any sizeable body of water looking for unsuspecting prey.

Now, at the age of nine or ten, we were too young to know much about nature. But we did know that in the spring frogs did a lot of croaking and croaking made them easier to find.

We were also quick to note that some of the frogs did more croaking than others and that this croaking, in turn, seemed to attract other frogs.

We also concluded, after a lengthy period of observation, that the frog who did the initial croaking didn't necessarily relish the attraction the sound garnered from the other frogs.

Each time it would croak, the frog in question would follow the vocal presentation with a leap forward.

For their part, the other frogs would follow the sound and their leaping friend in what appeared to be a nearly endless game of tag.

I say nearly endless, since occasionally one of the chasers would catch the chassee and leap on their back locking both forelegs around the other frog's body.

We, of course, did what any ten-year-old boy would do - we separated them and watched the chase begin again.

It wasn't until years later when I became involved in the human version of the same game that I realized just how frustrated that poor old frog must have been.

My favorite frog story, however, came one spring day when we were visiting my cousins in the country just outside of Hamilton, Ontario.

I, my older brother, my two cousins, and a couple of neighbour kids had visited a local pond and captured four of the prized amphibians.

We placed them in a pail of water and proceeded back to the house.

The trouble started when we reached home.

The two neighbours had to return for supper and we decided to divide up the days catch.

We figured two for the neighbours and two for us -- which, considering we were four and they were two, seemed eminently fair.

The problem, however, was one of size. You see, one of the frogs was considerably larger than the rest.

"That one's ours," said the neighbour.

Now fair is fair but when it came to size my older brother decided, having already yielded in number, we weren't about to give any more ground..

"No it's not," he replied. "It is too. I caught it!"

Well, the line had been drawn in the sand but just when push was about to come to shove, the back door opened and out stepped my grandmother.

By this point the bigger neighbour was nose to nose with my older brother and the debate had degenerated to the "Is too - Is not" stage.

"What's going on?" My grandmother asked.

In quick order six little boys explained the crux of the matter all at once.

Now, my grandmother was of the generation that had paid attention to the reading of the Scriptures and taking Solomon as her guide demanded to see the frog in question.

My brother dipped into the pail and withdrew the giant leaper.

My grandmother examined it closely and then, turning to the neighbour asked, "What colour eyes does your frog have?"

Now, when faced with this sort of question, no ten-year-old is going to admit ignorance. Nor are they going to ask an adult why this particular query is of any significance.

So, leaping fearlessly into the breech, he replied, "Blue."

"oh, I'm sorry," my grandmother replied looking appropriately desolated. "This one has brown eyes."

Game, set. and match to our side.

To this day I don't know what she would have done if the neighbour had said brown.