With a full half hour before leaving for my allergy appointment (yes, I'm allergic to all of my animals: cats, horses, pigs), I styled my hair, brushed my teeth, swiped on some tinted moisturizer and mascara, and slipped on a pretty, airy summer dress. Then I jumped into a pair of patent-leather, pink-heeled sandals. A glance in the mirror assured me I was "good to go," so I flew out the door and backed the car from the driveway.
At the doctor's office, I took my allergy shots like a girl while Carol, the nurse, fussed over my new look. "My goodness," she said. "You look so nice today. Are you going somewhere all fancied up like that?"
"No," I laughed. "I'm just going home."
"Usually you come here in your barn clothes," she said. "We don't ever get to see you all dressed up."
"Yeah, all dressed up and no place to go," I sang with a big grin.
Everyone laughed. I said good-bye, high-stepped out to the car, and in a half hour I was barreling up our driveway past the swimming pool.
"THE FROG!" I yelled with horror. In a flash I parked the car and ran to the barn where sat the golfcart. Dress hiked to my thighs, I climbed into the cart, pulled the choke and stepped on the accelerator. My trusty cart coughed and spit, and I yanked the wheel to the left. I roared out of the barn but had forgotten something. So, I put the gear in reverse, backed up to the barn door, and leaped from the cart. Inside the barn I pulled an old dirty horse bucket from a pile in a corner. Then I tip-toe-ran through the grass and back to the cart. I wasn't at all used to running in heeled sandals and a dress, but I didn't have time to change: a frog's life depended on me.
I stepped on the gas, and the cart and I jerked forward, hanging onto the wheel with one hand and the bucket with the other. "I'm coming!"I shouted.
I stopped the cart at the pool, ran to the edge, squatted, and looked along the stone border.
Earlier in the day I had seen a frog zi-i-i-i-i-inging through the water--water that I had super-chlorinated the evening before. I was reaching for the skimming pole when I heard the horses squealing in the pasture: a battle of the equines. So, I ran to break up the disagreement before anyone got hurt.
Once the frog was out of sight it was out of my mind. I forgot about him swimming in all those chemicals. I went about my chores for the day and then left for the allergist.
I stumbled around the pool edge in my fancy fuschia sandals, trying hard not to overtread my ankle: Where could the frog be? I'd never forgive myself if he lay dead somewhere--dead from swimming in and inhaling chlorine for half a day.
I ran around the pool edge: no sign of the frog. I ran to one of the skimmers, pulling off the lid.
A frog was swirling, helpless, in the maelstrom created by the pump's vacuum. I reached down and scooped him up. Then I opened my fist, dreading to find him lifeless and bleached pale by the super-concentrated chlorine. Amazingly, he was still alive!
Tripping over the grass, I ran him over to the horse bucket into which I had put a small amount of fresh water. I put him into the bucket, and he began to leap for the edge. But the bucket was too deep for him to escape. Then, I teetered back through the grass to the other skimmer. Where there was one frog, there could be another. And so it was. Another frog! Scooping him up, I ran him to the bucket, too.
Then I hopped into the cart, stomped on the pedal and the frogs and I flew down the driveway, water sloshing all over the floor. We roared across the street, through our grove of fruit trees, and down the hill to the pond.
At the edge of the pond, I stopped the cart, grabbed the bucket with the frantic frogs leapng like pole vaulters, and squidged my way to the water's edge. I glanced at the muddy edge, full of divots made by the hooves of the Belted Galloways. In order to release the frogs I would have to step into the mud. I suppose I could have taken off my sandals, but the idea of squishing through manure-tainted mud and having it come up through my toes really grossed me out.
The frogs were manic and perfecting their vaulting. I had to hurry. So, with much distaste, I gripped the horse bucket handle and stepped gingerly into the mud. Two feet from the edge of the water, I sank almost to my arches. Slime bubbled around the edges of my shoes. I felt sick. Then, teetering on a small stone, I was able to pour the frogs into the pond. They slid away into the muddy water and were out of sight.
I hopped away from the edge. Mud was splattered up my calves and had hit the hem of my dress. What a mess! I would spend the next hour holding my sandals underneath the kitchen faucet and scrubbing them with Dawn liquid.
The most important thing, however, was that the frogs were safe and happy in the farm pond. I could wash the dress, and, though the sandals would never be as shiny as when I first put them on, their appearance is tolerable.
Just another day in paradise.