The Brave Gray Treefrog

It was January. Christmas was over, the long cold siege of deep Minnesota winter had begun. I was in the living room, where all of the potted plants reside, brought in when autumnís chills fill the air. I donít recall specifically what I was doing there.

Our living room is sunny, with lots of large clear shadeless windows. My wife and I are also inveterate collectors and we have lots of stuff displayed around the house. We also buy and sell antiques, so we often have things out to research or mark for sale.

I walked by the marble top table that sits between two plant stands, and I noticed a little ceramic figurine of a frog that I hadnít remembered purchasing. It was perhaps an inch or inch and a half long, and looked very realistic. So realistic that I wanted to touch it to make sure.

And so I reached out to touch it, expecting a cold hard ceramic surface, and what did I discover but that this was a real, genuine, very much alive gray tree frog! I was a bit taken aback, since it had been many months since I had hauled the plants in and we had neither seen nor heard anything from the poor creature.

I reached to pick it up, and it gave a big hop onto one of the plants next to the marble top table.

Joan was not home, but when she did arrive, I showed her the little creature, cowering beneath the leaf of a potted plant.

Then it disappeared, never to be seen again. Or so we thought.

Perhaps six weeks later, Joan was in the living room, reading the paper. As she leaned forward to get another section of the paper from another chair, she found herself eyeball to eyeball with the elusive gray tree frog. It had tucked itself in between the seat of the chair and a slat that runs up the back, blending to its surroundings. Unless you leaned over toward it.

The shy creature, once we knew it was there, continued to attempt to hide, but I could usually find it. It was once on top the china cupboard, sitting on the stem of a ceremonial pipestone pipe. It was once on the window ledge sunning itself, but most often in a pot, under the cover of friendly camouflaged greenery.

Today, April 14, 2004 I released the creature back to the wild, finding a nice little batch of old oak leaves next to the creek. The treefrog did not go passively. I had planned to move the plant out, and let it seek shelter on its own. When I lifted the plant, it started to move to escape. I tried covering the plant with my hands, but it found an opening, and started escaping. I set the plant down, just as it hopped to the floor, and I was able to grab the little creature in my bare hand, closing my hand gently around it.

All the way to the creek, it struggled to escape, but once I released it on pile of leaves, it did not move, blending perfectly into its surroundings.

It is my calculation that this little creature survived on who knows what from mid October until mid April, six full months. I can only theorize that an occasional ladybug or spider would wander by, oblivious to the treefrogís presence, and end up a tasty meal.

I know itís only a small treefrog, repugnant to some, loved by few, but I have to admire the perserverance and drive to survive that this little creature had. Iím glad it was able to survive long enough to have warmer days arrive, and be released to its natural environment. It may face more dangers, but itís now where it should be.  And thatís my gray treefrog story.