I'm going to stretch the parameters of this blog a bit today, just because I can, and because I have a story to tell. This story was inspired by real events over the weekend in Cockeysville, and by today's Sun, which in the spirit of a gorgeous stretch of Spring weather includes articles about crabs, whooping crane reproduction, flowers and frogs. (Did you notice the mention of "weather" there? That will stand as justification for this story.)
OK, so my wife and I are out on the WeatherDeck in Cockeysville, hosing off the pollen and the oak flowers in preparation for the arrival of in-laws for Mother's Day weekend. We pull the vinyl covers off the deck furniture, which have protected tables and chairs from the weather all winter - or at least they did until a windstorm threw them aside a few weeks back. We never bothered to put them back in place.
We toss the covers off the deck onto the lawn below, where they rest for several hours while we finish hosing off the deck and potting some flowers.
Then, my wife gathers up one of the covers, hauls it into the house and stuffs it into the washing machine for a good scrubbing before we put it away for the season.
A couple of hours later, I'm working at the computer when I hear a plaintive wail from the basement laundry room. Now, I've been married to this person for nearly 37 years, and you'd figure I'd be able to gauge the nature of the emergency from the tone of the wail. And that would normally modulate how fast I have to scramble down two flights of stairs.
Not this time. It doesn't sound like "I've fallen and broken my leg." But then again, it doesn't sound like "Come look at what I found!" either.
So, I choose a midling pace, taking care not to fall on the steps and break MY leg. I find my wife standing a good five feet from the washer. She appears intact, but she is looking at the machine as though the newborn monster from ALIEN had emerged from the deck table cover.
Amid the gibberish coming from her mouth I catch the word "frog!" So I begin pulling the now-twisted cover from the washer and peering deep into the machine. And there it is - a very small, very dead, but impressively clean frog. Whether he got caught up in the cover while it rested for months on the deck, or for hours on the lawn doesn't seem important anymore, somehow. So I scoop him up in a paper towel and commit his limp remains to the trash can.
Oddly enough, we should have seen this coming. A year or two ago, during the exact same Springtime ritual, a very similar cry had reached me from the laundry room. That investigation yielded a similarly clean, but very much alive toad at the bottom of the washer. He was returned to the lawn from whence he came, hopped a bit, and presumably made a fine impression on the next female toad he encountered.
The good news is that the ecosystem that surrounds the WeatherDeck is healthy enough to support a lively population of amphibians. The bad news is that some of them can't survive the wash cycle.