Jeremiah, Is That You?


One of my greatest frustrations over the years has been an inability to see big frogs in the ponds and sloughs I visit. I often hear them — their croaks, and their splashy retreats into water — but I never have seen more than the ripples they leave behind.

That ended last weekend at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. Standing on a bridge that crosses a pond, I was idly scanning the water when I noticed a bit of bright green. Looking closer, I realized it wasn’t another clump of algae. It was a frog; even better, it was a frog who seemed willing to tolerate my presence.

After a few photos, I realized the frog wasn’t about to move, so I moved to a different vantage point on the bridge, where I was able to catch this wonderfully typical froggy expression.

Eventually, a noisy conflict between two bull alligators caused the frog to disappear into the reeds, but I had my photos. Only two days earlier, on March 3, I had expressed my hope to Steve Gingold, frog photographer extraordinare, that this year I finally would find a bullfrog. On March 5, I did just that.

Leaving the refuge, I was filled with the kind of joy that only a true Jeremiah could evoke. I’d gone for flowers, but found a bullfrog. It seemed a fair trade, and reason enough to break into the song that you know.


Comments always are welcome.

84 thoughts on “Jeremiah, Is That You?

    1. I can’t help smiling at the connection between the band’s name and some of your recent experiences. On their website, it notes that their name — Three Dog Night — refers to “native Australian hunters in the outback who huddled with their dogs for warmth on cold nights; the coldest being a ‘three dog night.'” They did make some fine music, and they’re still touring.

  1. Of course, looking for flowers, made it more likely to find a frog. An image worthy of the wait. Bull alligators?? I’d be out of there quick smart, but I guess you understand their behaviour better than I….

    1. It’s still very early in the mating season: more noise than real fight, from what I’ve seen. With a degree of reasonable caution, and an understanding of their habits, it’s easy enough to stay safe in their world. I’d say the frog (and the birds) that disappeared when the gators started tussling have an instinctive understanding of their behavior.

  2. HUZZAH!!! I am filled with joy for you, Linda. What a handsome bull froggie. I’d be very happy to have seen that guy. I think “guy” as the tympanum is about the same size as the eye. Usually a female would be smaller and a male larger but this is a young one I think so not quite matured. He’s a fine poser and the photographer made some sweet portraits.

    1. I’d thought either young male or female because of what I’ve learned from your blog. Apart from the frog itself, the light was great. I cropped the images a bit, but no other adjustments were necessary.

      What amused me was my response to the experience. The Aransas refuge is relatively isolated, but I’d gone there after hearing about the presence of white prickly poppies. I’d already photographed some poppies, but after the frog showed up, I was done. I turned around and left the refuge: there was nothing that was going to make the day better.

      1. Frogs will do that to you. Lol. Most of the time I forget what I’ve just been shooting for the next subject steals my attention but once I’ve made frog photos they are all I can think about. Well, pink water-lilies distract me.
        While at UMass Three Dog Night did a show and of course Jeremiah was heard by all. My friends and I were not all that enthused at the time as they were warm ups for Ten Years After. Now as an old frog photog I have a warmer feeling for the tune.

        1. Until I met you, I”d never heard of Ten Years After. Interesting. I did look at the ditch ponds a couple of weeks ago, and no sign of lilies yet, except for a few pads. I suspect things will have changed by now.

    1. Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes we have to wait a little longer than we’d like, but no matter. While we’re waiting for one gift, another always appears.

    1. Given a choice between spending some time in the company of alligators or driving Houston freeways, I’ll take the gators every time. They’re more predictable, and less dangerous to human life.

        1. And don’t forget this: most people who photograph alligators possess a nice telephoto lens. Those toothy gator grins are best viewed from some distance.

    1. Some of us are old enough, and have heard that song enough times, to have the lyrics stuck in our minds as well as the tune. It’s great weekend music, that’s for sure — although it can cheer up any day.

  3. Immediately, “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls now” came to mind. Great frog pictures!What a thrill it must have been to finally get such good photos.

    1. Now that I’ve spotted a bullfrog, I wonder if I might see more. I remember going for years without seeing a white prickly poppy. After I spotted my first one along a Texas highway, they suddenly were everywhere. Of course they’d always been there: it was as though I’d suddenly developed ‘white poppy glasses” and could see them. Maybe I’ll have frog glasses now.

  4. You were lucky that the frog decided to pose long enough for several shots. Did you get any gators? Three Dog Night came to my hometown and was my first rock concert. It was held outside in a park and because of the noise, the mayor banned any future concerts.

    1. I spent a half hour with that frog before it decided to head for the reeds. I talked to it, walked around on the bridge, and clicked away — all while it gave me that bemused froggy smile. Maybe Mother Nature told it, “Stay put, and make that woman happy.” As for the alligators, I have so many photos of them now, and see them so often, I generally pass them by, unless there’s something really unusual or attractive to see. This pond had so much growth, and so many low-hanging branches, a clear shot would have been difficult anyway.

    1. Believe it or not, the group still is touring. They’re going to be in Baton Rouge later this month, and then on to the east coast. They had so many good songs, but I never expected this one to become so appropriate!

    1. I have a friend with pond, and she swears it’s full of frogs. I’ve seen turtles there, but never a frog. I need to give it another try now that I’ve seen one; perhaps I’ll know better what to look for. As for turtles, I saw my first one crossing a road last week. Everything is coming out of the mud!

      1. Just spotted 1 bullfrog jumping into the pond today. Well, didn’t really “see” it, but heard it! We have sighted one red slider, a new one that’s a tad smaller than the other 2 we had last year. We’re hoping those 2 show back up, but it hasn’t happened yet. Last spring we had about 6 baby red sliders swimming about, but I guess they took off at some point. They were ultra cute!

        1. I don’t know — uktra cute might be fun, too! My friend-with-a-pond has red sliders, too. I can entice them to the surface with food sometimes, but frogs aren’t so responsive.

    1. Do you see frogs at the Ditch? I’ll bet you do. I couldn’t have asked for a better first sighting: good light, and an accomodating subject make for decent photos. I often enough see green tree frogs on palmetto leaves, and they’re adorable little creatures, but this guy is of a different order entirely!

      1. I hear frogs at the Ditch, including what I think might be a bull frog — very bass! But I think I’ve only seen one once (and not all that big of a one.) Well, twice. Once was in Harry’s mouth and you could see his little legs wiggling before he was gulped down.

    1. There’s nothing like a good song to make a day go better, and “Joy to the World” is a good one. I’m so glad I got to see this frog; I enjoy thinking of him living his froggie life in a wonderful pond. The dragonflies and damselflies are out now, so he no doubt has plenty to eat.

  5. Well that song takes me back to my childhood. Once my mom was babysitting an older boy (maybe babysitting is the wrong word – but she was definitely in charge of him) & he started singing that song & I had stars in my eyes. Little Dana’s first crush. Ha!

    1. I get such a kick out of songs that bring memories across generations. I think I first heard this one while driving to Houston for a new job; it was released in 1970, and re-released in 1971, so I’ve been listening to it a good while.

      Aren’t those first crushes and ‘boyfriends’ fun to remember? I remember the name and address of my first ‘boyfriend,’ from about second grade. We didn’t have social media, but we had playgrounds, and chants like, “Billy and Linda, sitting in a tree — k-i-s-s-i-n-g…” Do you know the next line?

      1. First comes love, then comes marriage, then along comes Billy with a baby carriage! Ha!

        The incident I recall probably was around 1971 when I was 7 years old – perfect timing for a first crush.

  6. Cheers from the Land of the Half-Dozen Dozin’ Dogs Night. The frogs here are all still deep in the mud in a deep deep sleep.
    I’m so happy you met up with your very handsome friend there, Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea!

    1. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around the continuing cold and such up there, but it is only creeping up on mid-March. Even here, the turtles and alligators are just beginning to show, and I’ve not heard any spring peepers yet. On the other hand, the front step was covered with June bugs one morning last week. I have no idea what that was about: perhaps a case of overenthusiasm.

      I was thrilled to find Mr. Frog. The best things in life may not be free — it did take a tank of gas and such to get to his neighborhood — but they’re usually unexpected. That’s part of the fun!

  7. LOL, I knew from the title I’d be seeing bullfrogs. My sister in law relates that her favorite pastor on his death bed, dozing and out of it, cried out “Jeremiah was a bull frog” Guess that permeates even the thinking of ones who dwell on Biblical knowledge.

    Whenever I encounter the sounds of many frogs in the low light of evening, it is haunting and reminds me of The Lurker in the Threshold as the frog sounds foreshadowed the Old Ones coming through the threshold. That eerie sense has stuck with ever since because of that book.

    1. Hoyt Axton wrote the song, and meant it as little more than a fun kid’s song, but over the years there’s been quite a discussion about its ‘deeper meaning.’ Does it refer to a frog or a prophet? I suppose you could go either way, although slanting it toward Jeremiah the prophet seems to me to require quite a reach.

      I’d never heard of The Lurker at the Threshold, but I’m not a reader of fantasy, horror, and so on. On the other hand, I found an online text of Loren Eiseley’s “The Dance of the Frogs,” originally published as a chapter in his book The Star Thrower. The first time I read it, I went around the house turning on the lights. It’s a truly remarkable piece, and I think you’d enjoy it.

  8. I know exactly how you’ve felt, surrounded by frog noises, near and far, small and large, and unable to spot a single one. I finally got some shots of bull frogs, with the help of some keen-eyed spotters… my next goal is tree frogs. I like the idea of developing frog glasses – I need some of those!

    1. You may enjoy this paragraph from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. It makes me laugh every time I read it. I think it’s her way of writing about frog glasses:

      “Stewart Edward White…devoted an entire chapter of The Mountains to the subject of seeing deer, [saying] ‘As soon as you can forget the naturally obvious and construct an artificial obvious, then you too will see deer.” But the artificial obvious is hard to see… I see what I expect. I once spent a full three minutes looking at a bullfrog that was so unexpectedly large I couldn’t see it even though a dozen enthusiastic campers were shouting directions. Finally I asked, ‘What color am I looking for?’ and a fellow said, ‘Green.’ When at last I picked out the frog, I saw what painters are up against: the thing wasn’t green at all, but the color of wet hickory bark.”

  9. Mr. Frog let you get a great set of shots and I’m sure you don’t begrudge his skedaddling once the alligators appeared. Thanks for putting that silly song in my head. Onward…

    1. I’m not sure who moved faster once the alligators started grunting: the frog or the Coots that had been lining the bank for a little afternoon grooming session. Apparently the song was so deeply embedded in my psyche ‘back in the day’ that all it took was seeing a bullfrog to bring Jeremiah to mind again.

    1. I’ve always wished the Aransas refuge was closer, but in the past I’ve divided up the trip with a stay at the Luther Hotel in Palacios. When I tried to make a reservation this time, the phone wasn’t working, and someone in the Chamber of Commerce said it was closed. I did some snooping, and found this article. Jack Findley, the wonderful proprietor died, and now there are people who want to demolish the place. I hope that it can be saved; it’s a real treasure. I once stayed in the ‘penthouse’ where presidents like LBJ stayed. Funky, but fun.

      1. Thanks for the article! I remember seeing it years ago when my sister lived in Palacios briefly. What a family mess! At least the Historical Registration is involved. What fun to be able to stay there!

    1. The song certainly gives meaning to the phrase ‘blast from the past,’ doesn’t it? Beyond that, the frog’s willingness to hang around seemed remarkable; I certainly appreciated it.

    1. Isn’t he a cutie? I’m almost certain I wouldn’t have seen him had the light not made that smoother green of his head more visible. It was the color that attracted me first; only after that did I realize what I was looking at.

    1. I haven’t thought of that show in forever. It was one of my mom’s favorite shows, and I sometimes watched it with her. I’ll look up the episode later, just for some fun and the memories.

  10. Congrats on getting your frog, Linda! That’s good for you, but also good for us, as we too get to enjoy him! Look at that froggie expression — it’s perfect!

    1. Most photos of bullfrogs make me grin — there’s just something about their expressions that suggests they’re judging us, giving a sigh, and thinking, “Silly human!” I can’t quite find the word that describes this one’s expression; I recognize the look, but just can’t pull up the word. No matter. He can be enjoyed even without the perfectly descriptive word.

    1. I’ve come to think that it was varnishing that developed the patience needed for photography. Sanding wood, particularly, can lead to the temptation to hurry things along, but if the prep’s not right, the result will be sub-par. That’s a lesson with a lot of applications!

  11. Great photos. Despite living next to Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a frog. I hear their sounds in summer, especially on a hot evening, but the undergrowth and reeds make it impossible to get close to any water, let alone see them in real life.

  12. Is it a frog, is it a toad? What a glorious creature. I feel great envy that you not only have spring springing up all over but finding a frog to revel in. Lovely photographs, Linda.

  13. Laughing here, Linda. Obviously you didn’t grow up in frog country. Every pond around Diamond Springs had bunches. There was even a big one that lived in our ditch in front of our house. I’d go to sleep at night when I lived outside in the summer listening to his chug-a-rums. And pollywogs. Everywhere. With their chubby bodies and tails, eventually growing legs in one of nature’s wonders. Great photos. –Curt

  14. I once was a secretary in the Biomedical Engineering Department at my alma mater. As part of my duties, I had to order frogs from Louisiana for use in experiments. I wish I had a recording of the head “frog guy” that they got the frogs from. Then there was the uneasy call from the post office to come get this package right now because it was moving by itself.

  15. Nice to know you have a new “good friend.” (I have vague memories of seeing Three Dog Night in concert back in the 80s. Even then they’d been around for a while.)

    1. I was surprised to learn that they’re still touring. Of course, the makeup of the band has changed with time, but the sound still is great. And now that I’ve seen one frog, I’m curious to know if I might be able to see more. Looking at the world through frog-colored glasses might be the trick.

    1. Frogs always make me smile, but this one brought a bigger than usual smile: not just because it was the first I’d finally seen, but also because of that expression. Bullfrogs are just so — personality filled!

    1. I’ve always enjoyed Steve’s froggie portraits, but there’s nothing quite like having a frog of my own to admire. What surprised me most wasn’t only the seeing: it was that the frog deigned to hang around for such a long time. It was a fun encounter. Now when I hear those splashes, I’ll know what I might have missed.

  16. Nice! I certainly understand your feelings about hearing them but then only seeing waves in the water from their quick departure. They do so often seem shy creatures. Glad to see you found a more cooperative individual.

    1. I don’t know if they’re shy, anti-social, or just extremely sensitive to possible threats, but they sure can jump! Truly, I couldn’t believe this one’s willingness to just sit around while I wandered the boardwalk taking its photo. I wondered if it still was lethargic from its time in the mud, or if it just happened to be as curious about me as I was about him.

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