Here’s help cleaning the refrigerator, something he couldn’t do in Hawaii, as we had no frig.
Zoom-Zoom is so old I’ve forgotten his age—same as I’m doing with me. He’s a little older than I am when you count cat years. And he’s the only animal left from our trip to the Island talked about in The Frog’s Song.
Baby Dear was seven-months-old when we left for The Island. This coming February on Ground Hog’s Day, he will turn eleven.
We celebrated his first birthday at Black Sands Beach in Hawaii, where the Hornbill turtles came to sun themselves. And there Baby Dear smeared the smooth caviar black snd on his legs. Peaches, my poodle, found another pup for me, Sweetpea. If Bear found Layfette for Daughter Dear, he chose the opposite of himself. Bear was the most gentle, easy-going Newfoundland, even to the point of putting himself between Baby Dear and a Doberman that rushed us from the bush.
Layfette is a coon-hound, highly excitable, and highly talkative. He’s the town crier (or should I say brayer, as coon-hounds bray instead of bark). He announces, every move–us coming or going, every person on the street, bicyclist or dog within 100 yards of the house, and then he goes into the backyard and checks the periphery.
But I was talking about Zoom-Zoom, as a kitten, he was the fastest one on the block. He never walked through a door but went through it like water squirting from a nozzle. He is getting skeletal thin, although he asks for food, and we provide it. After a bite or so, he’s finished. It isn’t that we’re starving him, we’re trying.
What’s so stupendous about him is that he sits around purring.
Does he see something on the other side we don’t?
On the Island, he got fat from eating and no exercise. He was afraid to go outside and wouldn’t leave my desk for more than a potty break. Now, he will go for walks with us, wanders around the neighborhood, can be found sleeping in the weirdest places, like the little ditch in the neighbor’s yard—where two women walking down the street, though he was dead—amongst the flowers in the front yard, even atop the wire tunnel, we built between two chicken coups.
He is handling his age with grace. A box is a great place to sit in or sleep on. This was taken in October after my first-born Grandson’s 14th birthday party.
I called our excursion to the Island an adventure. Now I’m finding (a nod to Martha Beck again) that an adventure has the potential of having everything go to hell. If all’s well, it’s a vacation.
You know about Joseph Campbell’s archetype of The Hero’s Journey. First, the hero hears the call and often refuses to go.
Then something happens to catapult the hero out of their comfort zone and into the journey. (I felt we had to leave a house that was draining us.) Both daughter and I felt the Island calling with such vigor we had to go. And the fact that we managed to pull it off was a second telling point. I wanted all this in the book, the hero’s journey, the trials, the angst, but perhaps it took ten years to get the gist of it. I’m looking back now, for I know it’s hard to see the forest when you’re in the thick of it. But climb a hill and look back, and the majesty of the forest is spread out in panoramic detail.
We learned we survived, we found what we wanted and what we didn’t want. They say the Island gives you clarity—and it will bend you to your knees until you get it.
We found that you can play hot/cold with life, that you can change your mind. To say, yes, when something calls with the intensity that the Island called us. And coming home, I got a boom—that was the book The Frog’s Song accepted for publication, and to meet my lovely editor/publisher (via email) was a delightful adventure.
The book, however, is selling like hotcakes at a glycose intolerant convention. I know I’m not marketing enough, but then the doing of it was the important thing.
I believe my publisher wanted a sweet little travel story. I wanted a Wayfinder’s journal that would contribute to a reader’s life.
What a Frog Taught me About life would be a more compelling title. However, The Frog’s Song was stuck in my craw, from those far away medicine cards that set me on the trail to believing that the frog’s song calls the rain that settles the dust for our journey. But’s The Frog’s Song’s title may sound too sweet, and some think it’s a children’s book. (Don’t knock children’s books, they are some of the most creative around.)
A woman called across the concourse to me at the Lane County Fair, where I was sitting at the author’s table, “How long have you been writing? She asked.
“Since the day before God was born.”
She laughed and responded, “I was there.”
She didn’t come close to me, but went on her way, afraid I might nab her perhaps, busy maybe. Fun though.
What did the frog teach me?
(I’m the frog croaking out my un-melodious sound.)
The frogs of Hawaii sounded sweet, singing their own name, “Co-qui,” sounding like birds, and their size was no larger than your thumbnail. They taught me to sing at night. To sing whether anyone is listening. To sing while the world tries to shush you, and pesticides come to kill you. To persevere in the face of adversity, and to know that even if you are a dull little brown frog that you have a place, a voice, and that you matter. While people considered the Coqui’s “noise pollution,” those little frogs did no harm. They helped by cleaning up bugs, and their voice was a love call. No harm there, make more frogs.
Here I wrote about Zoom-Zoom yesterday. This morning he was moving around apparently trying to find a comfortable spot. I stroked his cheek, and about two minutes later I was shocked to see that he had flown away to the Happy Hunting Grounds.
It put a period at the end of our Island adventure.
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