Today’s blog was inspired by a recent visit back to Louisiana. Christa and I were born in Grand Rapids, Michigan (moved when we were a few months old), and then grew up in Louisiana (Shreveport and Pineville). My sister Michelle is dating THE NICEST guy named Stevie. They mentioned that they were thinking they may go “frogging” Thursday evening after they both got off from work. I joked that my Sophia would think she had died and gone to heaven to do something like that. Sophia LOVES bugs, turtles, frogs, and anything else that is slimy. The first thing she does when Dave cleans the pool is to check the skimmers for dead frogs. Stevie said he would love to take Sophia and that Michelle and I could join him as well. He mentioned something about not a lot of room, so it would just be the 4 of us. I honestly had no idea what frogging entailed, but knew that Sophia would be thrilled. He didn’t mention much (we would go around 8 PM, he would use a spear), but I knew this would definitely be an experience. All day long Sophia asked me what time is was because she was SO EXCITED!!! I will say that I was nervous because I am not a lake or bayou girl. Although we grew up in Louisiana, our family never partook in typical recreation (hunting, fishing, camping). I will admit what I thought frogging would look like, was not what happened. For some strange reason I envisioned frogging to look like this:
Stevie would bring us out on a big boat and we would just boat down the middle of the lake. I pictured large frogs swimming next to the boat and Stevie “spear fishing” these large toads. It would be evening, but for some reason it would not be dark. There would be lots of boats around us. Of course there would be no snakes or alligators because they would be busy elsewhere.
Here is actually what happened:
We took out Stevie’s smaller tin boat. We sat on bread boxes and a cooler. There was a reason that only a few of us could go. As we were leaving Stevie asked us if we wanted him to throw a few beers in the cooler. I said “sure”.
I love that he has been frogging in south Louisiana for many years and was insistent that we all wear our life jackets the entire time. He has been around enough to know that things happen and good swimmers can still succumb to accidents.
We pull into the VERY DARK lake. Stevie had a headlamp that was connected to an extension cord and a battery. This was how he saw the toad’s eyes!
We are trolling toward the edge of the bank when all of a sudden Stevie asks “Do you see that orange eyeball?” Me, “Huh”. Stevie, “Look at the large orange eyeball. That is an alligator”. Me, “Are you serious!!!”.
To make matters better, at the same time Stevie says he sees a frog and starts towards the brush (shore). At this moment I am not excited about being a few feet from a huge alligator and then our boat starts to head towards the bank and all of the low hanging branches.
Me, “What, what….Why are we heading towards the shore?” In my mind I imagine a million snakes hanging in the branches ready to drop into our tin boat”.
I am amazed by the precision that Stevie sees the large frogs (the rest of us saw nothing). He pulled the boat in to the shore. It was then that we learned that the frogs are paralyzed by his headlight and that is why he can swiftly grab his spear and aim. He tried to aim for a body part other than the leg (we wanted the frog legs intact to eat) and then quickly grabbed it and put it in the tethered ice chest. Sophia had the privilege of sitting on top of the cooler and she kept jumping because the frogs (on ice) were still alive and trying to get out!
I think this is when I started realizing why you have to have a certain boat that can go in and go out. I will admit this is when I started freaking out. We kept seeing more alligator beady eyes, were pulling up to the shore, and it was pitch black. I joked that while I appreciated Stevie’s Natural Light Beer, I wished I would have brought my bourbon. It was probably at this point that I got what a big deal this adventure was. I was scared, but I was having the best time of my life. Sophia had the biggest smile on her face and I got that 99% of the world would never go frogging. I started thinking about all of the shows I have watched where people travel to get the “bayou experience” and realized, THIS WAS IT!!!
The troller acted like it wanted to die a few times and I started to get worried. I asked what would happen if the motor died. Stevie said we would just jump onto the shore and walk along the levee. I thought about that terrible idea for a second and told him that if the motor died, I was calling 911. Surely someone would have pity on us and come rescue us!
I told Stevie he needed to start a business and take tourists frogging. I know people would pay a pretty penny for this experience. It was so authentic, simple, dangerous, and fun. He said he loved taking friends and family, but didn’t want to have to do it. I get it. But I also get that someone in South Louisiana should have this business. People will pay for the experience.
Stevie was not worried at all abut the alligators, but instead said we needed to be most careful to avoid wasp nests. We tried to keep our heads low when he would pull into the bank to catch a few frogs. Some of the cool critters we saw included nutria, beavers swimming, and a few possums. Michelle and I tried to spot toad eyes but inevitably the only thing we needed up spotting was shiny trash that we thought looked like eyes!
We left Stevie with the still live frogs. He sorted them out the next day by cutting their heads off and peeling them. He brought them over to my parent’s house a couple days later and fried them. They were so good!!!Chef Stevie brought them over to cook and they were SOOO GOOD!!!
My question for you, what is an experience you have that seems normal that the rest of the world would LOVE to have?