LC Van Savage
Mrs. Olyphant's Frogs
Mrs. Olyphant was probably one of the earliest hippies on record although the name had not yet been invented back then. She was tall, her hair thick, streaked dark blond and pulled back into a very long braid. She lived largely off the land high atop a tall hill, growing everything edible, and she wore long, flowing home-made clothing. She strummed her dulcimer at night while her husband who also had a very long braid, only his was grey, dozed in his chair near the fire.
A good woman was Mrs. Olyphant who kept her own counsel. She hummed, sang or whistled tuneless tunes while she farmed her land. She loved all people and would share or give away anything she owned if a person expressed a need, and she was joyful.
However, there was one part of Mrs. Olyphant’s existence that was off limits, totally forbidden and never shared; her collection of beloved frogs. She collected frogs from lakes and streams throughout the Northeast and then quartered them in a pond she’d dug and half-barrels she’d filled with water as well as a creek which bordered her property. Mrs. Olyphant loved newts and snails, turtles, caterpillars, most fish, snakes and worms too, but her frogs had the edge. She loved them with an unusual passion. She fed them exotic frog cuisine she sent away for, let them hibernate and procreate and she worshiped these amphibians that came from her far-reaching travels and were of every frog color and size.
The good Mrs. Olyphant did not know that the young girl who lived a mile away also loved things that crept and slid, swam and slithered. Her name was Annie and she’d had her eye on Mrs. Olyphant’s frogs ever since she’d sneaked up the tall hill three years before and saw them all in the late spring, hearing them calling for mates, watching them leap, swim, dive and gleam. She loved them. Coveted them. Planned to steal them. But only when she could determine that the kindly Mrs. Olyphant was harvesting or planting things which would keep her away from the pond, creek and half-barrels.
Young Annie crept up the tall hill carrying a blue plastic bucket and small net with which to snag and bring home her booty. She would care dearly for them, as had Mrs. Olyphant. Annie would feed, love and hold them and give them good lives in their new digs quickly after she’d scooped them up and oh so gently stuffed them in her pail and sped home on her waiting bike. In her mind she’d practiced often how to make the heist, being sure to not hurt the creatures. She’d fill that bucket and be back down the tall hill, onto her two wheeler and into her own back yard where she’d prepared a proper little pond with a few thriving lily pads she’d pinched from a neighbor’s small lake in the other direction.
Gripping her bucket and net, Annie crept slowly toward the first half-barrel having staked it out a week before, knowing it was filled with beautiful frogs of an unusual color. She lowered her small net into the half-barrel. Suddenly Mrs. Olyphant burst from her highbush blueberries, saw Annie, and like an enraged mother tiger charged at the frightened girl. She stopped at the half barrel and began to run her hands through the murky water, turned and shouted “Annie, what have you done?”
Annie stuttered, “Oh! Hello there, Mrs. Olyphant. Oh! Wait!! I hear my mother calling!” and she turned and ran fast down the tall hill toward her bike and raced away.
“Mother indeed!” shouted Mrs. Olyphant. “You live a mile away Annie. Don’t you ever dare come back, not ever!”
Annie skidded into her driveway and ran behind her home toward her own small frogless pond. She looked into her bucket and there saw 5 tiny amphibians shaky, wet, but unharmed. Looking over her shoulder to make sure Mrs. O. wasn’t hot on her trail, Annie tipped the frogs into her own pond where they lived and thrived and soon created thousands of beautiful, slippery descendants of Mrs. Olyphant’s cherished vertebrates, and Annie never regretted her caper.
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