The Frog Lady

by Dorothy Dee Workman

For four decades, the only frog in my life was a “froggy bank” that sat on my shelf. Then my husband and I traveled to Japan to visit our daughter who was teaching English there. One day in Tokyo, we walked to the coffee shop up the hill from her apartment and passed a lot where construction was about to begin on a high-rise apartment building. The workers were erecting heavy six-by-six-foot metal fencing to protect passers-by from catastrophe. One of the panels slipped out of control and landed my left foot!

In Japan folks do not rush to sue a company that has done them harm. The company, however, rushes to make amends. The only harm I suffered was the damage to my shoe, the loss of the nail on my left little toe, and a slight limp for a few days. An official from the company took me to the emergency room where my little toe was doctored, then brought me home. The next day two more officials came with apologies, a big box of candy and a check to cover the cost of the shoe lost. The check they gave me was enough to buy a number of pairs of shoes of the kind I buy. Since my walking was somewhat compromised they said they would drive David and me to one of the tourist areas.

A guide and driver took us on a one-day excursion to Kamakura to see the huge Chinese Buddha statue that had washed ashore during an ancient storm. He now sits serenely facing the sea for all those sight-seers to enjoy. Several other sites were on the agenda, including a meal at an elegant and expensive restaurant where they served the famous Kobe beef – which comes from cows that have had twice-daily massages! Apparently this causes the meat to become richly marbled with fat. (I wonder if the cows felt pampered or sacrifices to human gluttony.) The many courses of the meal were exquisitely served, though I don’t fully enjoy a meal for which I have to sit on the floor!

As a last stop, our guide took us into a fancy gift shop and told us we could each buy anything we would like. There were many exotic paintings, sets of china, jewelry. I couldn’t imagine any of that in my home. I then spied a little carved wooden frog, sitting on a log and chose that. Thus ended an unforgettable day and began my life as the Frog Lady.

The guide arranged to take us out to the airport the next day. There was a huge box in the van when they picked us up. They asked if we could take the box with us when we went. We had no idea what was in it, but of course agreed to take it. The guide also handed me a huge book full of frog pictures – which should have been a clue to the box contents.

After the seven-hour flight we arrived in our Vancouver home – and eagerly opened the box. Out jumped, hopped, tumbled, flew the frogs. We counted more than 200! There were big frogs, tiny frogs, frog umbrellas, pictures, dish towels, fabric, and paintings. We wondered if the workers responsible for my toe injury had been given that big box and told to fill it with frogs. If so, they did an incredible job.

Those frogs have become a magnet for other frogs over the years. Whenever family members had a gift-giving occasion for me, a frog would be the first thing they considered. Friends and even casual acquaintances might see a frog and buy it for “The Frog Lady.” If I had kept all the frogs I have received, I would be buried in frogs – not a pleasant thought. I don’t know any individuals who are as passionate about frogs as I am. Fortunately my church has a basket auction once a year and I can find welcoming homes for my foster frogs.

There are still enough frogs in my apartment to keep me smiling. That first frog, the green froggy bank, sits on a top shelf, smiling down at all the kith and kin he has lured into his presence.

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