Volume 8, Issue 1, September 2003, Page 7.
FROGS: A FOLKTALE AND A FACT-TALE by Fran Stallings
Here are a couple of frog stories, one a traditional folktale, the other an anecdote I have retold from two BBC news releases.
I encourage you to try telling these in your own words. If you have a frog noisemaker, such as the Indonesian carved wooden frogs with a ridged back, its sounds will add a lot to both stories.
FOLK TALE: EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED
Frogs lived in the ponds around a village in Africa. Frogs lived in the damp fields. Treefrogs lived in the trees. At night, the frogs croaked and peeped their mating songs—the village chief could not sleep.
In the morning, tired and irritable, the chief called all his people together. "These frogs offend me! They must die. All of you: take sticks and nets. Search everywhere. Kill those frogs!"
The villagers hastened to follow his orders, all but one -- a very old woman. "Why don't you do as you're told?" demanded the chief.
"Everything is connected," said the old woman. "I have lived long enough to see that you can't make a big change in one thing, without causing changes in other things."
"I don't care," said the chief. "I need my sleep! Go kill frogs." But the old woman wouldn't go. The chief grumbled, "She's probably too old to be much good at frog hunting."
That night, the pond and fields and trees were silent. Everybody slept well. But after a few nights, another sound interrupted the villagers' sleep: ZnnnZnnnnZnnnn. Mosquitoes!
The people had no mosquito nets. They spent their nights slapping, and their days scratching. The chief was miserable. The old woman paid a visit to the chief, who was covered with welts from the mosquito bites. "You see," she said, "everything is connected."
Source: motif J 2102.8.1 Frogs destroyed for croaking (Africa: Zaire). See Eleven Nature Tales retold by Pleasant DeSpain, Little Rock AR:August House, 1996. ISBN 0-87483-4589.
FACT-TALE: FROGS, LOCUSTS, AND DUCKS
Remember the Mad Cow Disease worries in Britain and Europe, which caused many people to quit eating beef? In their search for other meats to eat, some Europeans turned to frog legs -- long a gourmet delicacy on the Continent.
The supply of European farm -raised frog legs was soon exhausted, so they started importing frog legs from China where "field chicken" is a favored menu item.
When China's supply of farmraised frog legs ran low, enterprising peasants began to hunt wild frogs in the rice paddies, fields and swamps. The northern province of Hebei, alone, exported 2,000 TONS of frog legs! That's a lot of hoppers.
But by spring of 2002, locusts and other insect pests were attacking the crops. Near Beijing, scientists found as many as 5,000 locusts per square metre.
Provinces from Hebei in the north to Shanghai in the south passed laws banning trade in frog legs. Some areas could afford expensive aerial cropdusting campaigns with insecticide to fight the insects.
But other provinces released DUCKS into the afflicted fields. Ducks have a huge appetite for insects -- and after a couple months of locust duty, the fattened ducks were sold to restaurants. Pressed and roasted, they ended their careers with plum sauce.
*Source: BBC NEWS (http://news.bbc.co.uk) 11 June, 2002 and 23 June, 2002