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George, they said, we need a granite frog for Haller Park.Frog1

Frog? Hmmmm. Yeah, I guess that’s my thing, I said.

So it was that for three of the harshest months in memory, I crouched shivering in a cloud of dust over a granite block that had langished in my yard for twelve years, chips a-flying to expose the heart, soul and body of a frog that I had long suspected was harbored therein.

The avocation of granite carving is the quintessence of those old expressions ‘labor of love’ or ‘bed of pain’ as you may wish to choose. To prevent my brain from entirely turning to jelly during the unceasing 12-week ordeal of manhandling a screaming diamond-grinder, I took to mentally composing a farcical account of my progress as I beavered away. I recorded that bizarre narrative every few days in my journal. Bizarre? The following will illustrate:

frog2March 15, 2017 - Today as I worked, I drifted into concerned speculation as to what might be the gender of this frog. At first, I concluded it was surely male because although it’s ultimate home will be Arlington, ‘way down there in Washington State, it stubbornly exhibits a stony reticence in asking for directions how to get there. It’s been said that’s a male thing— though mainly by my wife, mind you. But now I’m not so sure. Here’s why: You see, each spring I’m overtaken by an annual hankering to head out salmon fishing. Invariably, this yearning occurs just as the early grass needs cutting and our property begs for yardwork after a soggy winter. Naturally, I opt for the salmon fishing; I mean, what man would not?—but for some reason, this causes my wife to take on that silent, thin-lipped, granite-chinned look, familiar to all married fishermen. Today, prompted by sudden appearance of the sun, I summarily dropped the hammer and started boatward, when I perceived that was exactly the look the frog had taken on. So I’m now suspecting it might be female.

Well, I just don’t know what the truth is and I don’t have the energy to just turn it bottomside up and inspect the evidence in the time-honored way. I think the good folk of Arlington will have to work this out for themselves.frog4

For me, for now, it’s just ‘The Frog.’

March 28, 2017 . . . a Tuesday. A solemn, rainy Tuesday. How do I begin to relate what happened? All I can say is ‘O frabjous day, calloo, callay . . .!!’ —for this was the day when the Haller Park Frog exhibited the first definite sign of life—when it was born, so to speak.

frog5I knew the time was close, for I have been intimately connected to this frog for months; and you can’t be that close and not sense the stirrings within. When I absolutely knew, on this auspicious morning, that the frog’s time had come, I prepared very carefully. Oh, I wasn’t expecting a frenzied wiggling to begin, or peeing all over the place like an excited puppy. No. I knew it would be a more dignified moment than that. I made careful preparations. I shed my mask and glasses and tossed off my tattered gloves, revealing the earth-person underneath for the momentous occasion I knew was upon us. I stood resolutely in front of the frog, looking straight into its freshly carved eyes. It looked back in typical stony silence, its countenance one of stoic expectancy. I had carefully rehearsed my lines to make this magic moment happen.
Summoning up my gravest stentorian voice, I rested my hand firmly on the frog’s forehead, and barked sharply ‘STAY!” . . . and omigod! The frog stayed! No hesitancy, no reluctance—just pure, simple understanding and unquestioning obedience! And so the Frog announced its arrival. Oh, it was a moment. Thinking back these weeks later, I am still beset by the emotion of it—and sadly feeling the first pangs of loss, for I know it must leave me soon as it migrates south to its new home in Arlington.frog6

Goodbye, dear Frog. I love you. G.

If you arbitrarily put a line where you think the backbone should be—and don’t ever lose sight of it, you’ll be able to locate and rough out the components on both sides. Here, the centreline is telling us the eyes are not balanced . . .

It starts by guessing what is excess and busting it off with shims and wedges . . .

Judging where the extremities should be is also only by estimation at first. Fortunately, at this point there’s still stone enough to make adjustments . . .

Incubating an embryo frog in a nice cool blanket of snow will contribute to a healthy birth :-)

. . . a few weeks of assiduous fretting and all parts are organized. Keeping that backbone in sight ensures that both sides develop equally balanced.

By the time this issue is published, the Frog should be installed in Haller Park in Arlington. It will be on the grass with a cobblestone surround to about 6” up the waterline. Kids will be invited to clamber. . . and I gratefully invite all NWSSA members to hang around and tell the passersby ‘I helped George learn how to do that . . . ‘