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Out On The Mudline

Frog Banquet Amused Family And Friends

By W. P. Sissell


  I talked to Betty before writing this to get her okay for she loves frogs. You might remember her friend who climbed aboard her hairdo as she entered her house. Actually, the column about counting the frogs in last week’s Herald reminded me of several experiences with frogs and I agree with the article that the number is diminishing.

  Not many years after we got the farm where we now live we got a request from the University of Mississippi Biology Department to allow some of their students to do some work relative to the frog population. Very possibly a copy of their findings are on record in their theses in the Biology Department files.

  The front tag on our automobile is the word Hotophia, over the head of a frog painted by our daughter, Susan. Hotophia (it means grasshopper) is the name of the creek that flows through our farm. Hotophia was an Indian Chief whose tribe lived on the banks of the streams flowing into the Tallahatchie River. I often wonder if they happen to be the ones who built the mound on O’tuckalofa, probably to guard against sudden flooding on O’tuckalofa. As I grew up I wakened many mornings to the roar of the water of the creek—sometimes it had not yet rained where we lived. The folks who built the various houses and barns certainly were wise about locating their buildings for we never had a building to be flooded and most houses were of the dog-trot type.

    When locating a new building Dad followed the example set by those early settlers. When you go into the Wildcat area of Enid Reservoir you can see an example of this. The land to the left front, facing west, was a part of our farm. It joined land owned by Ed Wilbourne. If you turn left, south, you would, before the time of the reservoir, be on a gravel road that would lead you to one of those slant bridges at he east end of the O’tuckalofa steel bridge on the Mud Line. As we came south, on the first high hill (geologically a monadnock), we passed three houses. Ulis Morgan lived there and after Ulis moved to the Cotoner place Floyd McCain and Ella moved there and lived for several years. That’s where he cut  my hair on the front porch most Saturdays. Later Claiborn Biles lived there for several years.

  A bend of the old run (O’tuckalofa) separated the first monadnock from this hill, another monadnock. Sam Adams lived on this hill. A little further south on the road and next to a part of the Old Run a previous owner built a fine tenant house. I have no idea what the name of the first family was that moved into that house. It was also the last, for one of those upstream rains happened and they moved in the night when the water got into the house. They didn’t’ follow the example of those old folks.

Back to Frogs

  Both Nannett and Betty will tell you stories of their frog pets that come and visit through the kitchen window. Nannett has one that would dearly love to come through the glass and perch (or whatever they do) on the vine that’s growing in a pot on the inside by the widow. I can tell you Betty, Nannett joins you in disliking the lizards. We had some for a while but filled their escape holes, along concrete walls, with putty.

  Dry Bayou traversed the entire section on the delta place. It takes about twenty odd acres out of the section. When you add our quarter section that we still own you can almost double the amount of that old bayou that we own (and pay taxes on). Our house there was perched on the bank of the bayou. One kind of frog, the bull frog, Rana Catesbianca, sang us to sleep almost every night.

    While we lived there we joined several other couples playing Rook. In a conversation at the Rook session some of the men heard our frogs and immediately wanted to come gigging. Nannette immediately put a distance limit on the gigging—one half mile from our house. Our house was almost exactly in the center of the farm so that’s about one half mile. Some of those bayou frogs sounded like monsters.

Our Hotophia Frogs

  Now I come to the frogs that are diminishing. No they do not cause warts—although they  may have some on their bodies. At the first house we built on our present farm, we had a paved carport on the south side of the den—a combination room. We didn’t look for the frogs, or even think about the frog population, in selecting a house site. They found us for we enhanced their food gathering—our carport became their meat market, their Kroger, their Piggly Wiggly.

  The two toads that we find most plentiful are Bufo terrestrial and Bufo woodhouse fowler. The easiest, and usually first, distinguishing characteristic is the kind, and amount, of black spots on their backs. Some of you  may have dissected a frog—I have been that mean old Biology professor who showed you some characteristics of living creatures by using a frog. If you have studied a frog I hope you remember the frog’s tongue and about how it was made.

    Have you ever seen a frog catch a fly or any bug? No, I haven’t either. I have seen a slight movement in the frog and the fly is gone.

  The den of that first house had double glass doors that opened onto the carport. It got to the point that we moved the vehicles out to catch the “Frog Banquet”. With the lights on, the night flying insects flocked to that lighted white concrete. Our whole family of friends enjoyed the banquet.

  Do have a great week and we’ll try to do the same. We got about twenty-seven hundreths of an inch of rain today, so we’ve had our good day. Hugh Hunt called and said that you folks were still dry.

  Thanks for the compliments and helps. You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, or by calling (662) 563-9879.

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