October 12th, 2011



The night it rained, a frog was in my garage. I don't know if it wandered in by itself, or if Portia found it and brought it in. I wouldn't have seen it had she not been worrying it, though. The door into the house was a bit ajar, and the frog had taken refuge on the sill. Had Portia not brought my attention to it as I was returning indoors, I probably would have closed the door on it. That happened once many years ago, when a tree frog got itself squashed between the front door and the door jamb. A faint, frog-shaped stain persisted on the jamb long after.

The rainy night frog was not a tree frog, but was no larger than a tree frog. As I opened the door, Portia swatted at the frog and it jumped off the sill onto the step, then headed for the washing machine. I managed to get the cat into the house with me, and left the frog in the garage to find its own way out, or not. I haven't seen it since, so either it's gone or it has secreted itself under an appliance or behind some boxes.

I'd like to think that it made its way back into the wet yard, perhaps to meet up with some other frogs, and that it will be able to avoid Portia and the other cats, and any passing cars should it try to cross the street, and will get to live out what's left of its froggy life in peace. I've been fond of frogs ever since my misguided childhood, when I used to catch them in a seasonal pond behind my house and carry them home, the lucky ones in jars and the unlucky ones in my pockets. I ceased to do the latter when my mom found squashed young frogs after running my pants through the wringer of her old fashioned washing machine. I'd have to save quite a few more frogs from cats now to make up for my youthful multiple amphibicides.

Anyway. Yesterday was tooth-cleaning day, and after I got home and ate my soft dinner I fell asleep on the couch. I woke after midnight from a dream of a train chugging up the tracks on the other side of town, which were abandoned decades ago and torn out long before I moved here. There was a train on the television, which I'd left on when I fell asleep. Now I'm groggy and displaced in the middle of the night, and occasionally biting down on bits of tooth polishing compound that didn't get rinsed away. If not for the train on television I might have woken from a dream of chewing on an eraser in first grade, back in the days when I was an unwitting frog murderer with cold-blood stains in my pants pockets.

I wish we still had trains here. I wish the frogs would sing.


By night, it would be hard to tell if this were October or April, were it not for the cicadas. The daytime sun is unmistakably autumnal, even on a day as balmy as this was, but at night the air is fresh and cool, and soft breezes set the unseen leaves rustling. Perhaps the leaves have a dryer sound in October than they do in April, when they are young and pliant, but the night conceals the darkened colors of the living leaves, and conceals the brown, dead leaves distributed among them.

Perhaps the scent of the soil and the plants carries a hint of the decay to come, but it is not yet strong enough to overpower the smell of grass watered by the recent rain and rapidly greening. The only thing that speaks strongly of autumn tonight is the buzzing of the cicadas. If I could imagine them away, I'd believe the greater part of spring lay ahead, but the cicadas tell me that autumn is here and winter on the way. Be quiet, little bugs, and let me pretend that the night will be brief, and that tomorrow I will see flowers budding, not strews of fallen leaves.