Skip to content


May 14, 2022

The full moon in May is called the full flower moon in the Old Farmer’s Almanac. It is the name used by several Native American tribes. May’s full moon was also called mother’s moon, milk moon, and corn planting moon. In May, the full moon marked a time of increasing fertility, with temperatures usually warm enough for safely bearing young, an end to late frosts, and plants in bloom.

The light of a silvery moon may provide the inspiration for a budding romance, but the full moon in May is the right time for bream fishing in our neck of the woods. This year the full moon will appear on May 16, prime time for fishing.

After nearly a two-year siege of health issues, I am unable to go fishing. But, I have an alternative. After a warm spring day followed by a cool evening, I enjoy sitting outside on our screened-in back porch. It is a marvelous time to sit in an old oak rocking chair and listen to the sounds of the night. The concert or the cacophony varies, but there is always something interesting to see and hear in the darkness.  

Chimney swifts put on a nocturnal aerial display, soaring and diving in the fading light, searching for insects. A lone male mockingbird sings a courting song from the top of a sweet gum tree. Tree frogs and crickets join in with their own melodies. Two feral cats confront each other with threats before darting across our lawn. A great horned owl gives a mournful hoot and waits for a response deeper in the woods. A big, fat possum ambles noisily out of the bushes and disappears quickly into the thicket beyond the chain-linked fence. Dogs bark in the background. Two bullfrogs chime in with bass notes from our pond. All of the activity is a prelude to an approaching thunderstorm. Our yard has been certified as a wildlife habitat. But, when the critters are stirred up, the place rivals the ancient Greek theatre with an ever-changing drama of comedy and tragedy.   

Before the COVID pandemic, I heard a program on a local radio station. The talk show featured experts from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Invited to call in questions, listeners kept the telephone lines humming throughout the hour.

Most callers were concerned about fishing regulations. They wanted answers about licensing requirements, size and number limits, and information about stocking ponds and streams.

Finally, near the end of the program, a fellow named Ralph was on the line.

“Ralph, where are you calling from?”

“From my pickup truck.”

“What’s your question?”

“What about frog gigging?”

The Game Warden answered, “The laws of South Carolina are completely silent when it comes to frog gigging.”

“You mean there ain’t no rules?”

“That’s right.”

“Hot diggity-dog!”

“You must like to eat frog legs.”

“Man, yeah! Fried frog legs are the best thing ever with a good vegetable like macaroni and cheese and a cold beer!”

Our garden waterfall spills into a pond lined with creek rocks. The water is recycled back to the top of the hill by a pump, creating a continuous flow.

On a visit to our garden, a friend sat by the pond watching the goldfish dart among the plants. “You need a couple of bullfrogs,” he observed.

I recalled the pleasant sound of bullfrogs from my boyhood fishing and camping adventures and agreed that a couple of bullfrogs would make a fine addition to our small pond. A few days later, a man from our church gave us six big croakers from the abundant population in his own pond. “I wanted to be sure you had at least one male and one female,” he chuckled.

After our gift of frogs arrived, I learned several interesting bits of information:  bullfrogs can live up to fifteen years, and female bullfrogs can actually lay as many as 20,000 eggs at one time. In a year or so more, I have no doubt that their croaks will be deafening.

I have enjoyed hearing their deep, resonant voices singing after dark along with the symphony of tree frogs, crickets, and a persistent whip-poor-will. The music conjures up thoughts of bullfrog tales.

In 1865, the budding journalist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was living in a cabin near Angels Camp, California. He frequented the bar at a local hotel, listening to yarns spun by prospectors from the nearby hills. It was there that he heard a tall tale, which he later crafted into a short story. Twain wrote about a bullfrog named Dan’l Webster, who fails to hop even once during a jumping contest. His dismayed owner, despondent over losing a bet of forty dollars, later discovers an opponent had filled the giant frog with lead quail shot. Twain’s legendary amphibian helped make him famous. “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” has become one of the best-known bullfrog stories.

Perhaps the most famous tale about frogs was written by the Brothers Grimm. “The Frog Prince,” which has been told and retold, usually recounts how a princess finds a conversant frog. The frog asks that she kiss him in order to break an evil spell so he can change into the handsome prince he was prior to the curse. Though in the story’s original form, the princess does not actually kiss the frog, it is most frequently told so that her kiss transforms the frog into a prince.

This theme has many variations, even one for liberated women.

Once upon a time, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess happened upon a frog in a pond. The frog explained, “I was once a handsome prince until an evil witch put a spell on me. One kiss from you, and I will turn back into a prince. Then we can marry and move into the castle with my parents. You can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, and bear my children. We’ll live happily ever after.”

That night, while the princess dined on frog legs, she laughed, “I don’t think so.”

A variation for senior adults places an old man on a log – wearing a tattered long-sleeve shirt, khaki pants, and a straw hat. Fishing with a cane pole from the riverbank was slow. As the late summer sun began to set, a bullfrog hopped up on the log next to the elderly gentleman and asked, “Are you married?”

“No, my wife died five years ago,” the man answered, surprised to be speaking with a frog.

After a pause, the frog offered, “I am really a beautiful princess. If you kiss me, I will become a young woman and marry you.

“Did you hear what I said?” the frog asked. “I am really a beautiful woman. If you kiss me, I will become a princess and marry you.”

The old gentleman considered the offer. Without a word, he gathered his fishing equipment, put the frog into his straw hat, and walked through the dark woods back to his pickup truck.

“Are you hard of hearing?” the frog demanded.

“No, not at all.”

Annoyed at the man, the frog repeated, “I really am a beautiful princess. Kiss me, and I will become a gorgeous woman. I will marry you.”

“I understand,” the man answered.

The frustrated frog shrieked again, “I really am a beautiful woman! I’m offering to become your wife. Why won’t you kiss me?”

The old man placed the straw hat containing the frog on the seat of his pickup truck and started the engine.  

The frog screamed above the noise, “Please kiss me! Please! Don’t you understand? I will be transformed into a lovely woman if you kiss me, and I will become your wife!”

The elderly gentleman paused a moment, then explained, “At my age, I can have a whole lot more fun with a talking frog than I can with a second wife.”

Kirk H. Neely is a freelance writer, a teacher, a pastoral counselor, and a retired pastor.

He can be reached at

Over these past months, I have asked that we contribute to our local charitable agencies. Thank you for all you have done. I will continue making suggestions because I have learned that these nonprofit organizations are quickly forgotten unless they are called to mind. Please know that I respect your freedom to choose agencies that are meaningful to you. One way to measure the strength of our community is to observe how we respond to those in greatest need. Please continue with your kindness and generosity. This week, please volunteer, or donate, as you are able, to Greater Spartanburg Ministries, 680 Asheville Highway, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29303, (864) 585-9371.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: