January is already in its twenties and I find I keep on getting dragged back to 2008. Only yesterday I discovered that last year was the International Year of the Frog. How did I miss that ? I don’t know where or when this was decided but I can imagine the endless jokes about it being a good thing to do in a Leap Year.
Even more surprising than the fact that 2008 was international frog year was that there was also a 2008 frog of the year: the European Tree Frog (almost extinct in Belgium and posing here as the European Finger Frog). But in 2007 there was no international frog of the year but an international toad of the year (the Common Spadefoot). The reason for this seems to be that this is originally a German prize, named Froschlurch des Jahres, Froschlurch being a word covering both frog and toad. So the prize is really Frogtoad of the Year. I am really, honestly and sincerely not making fun of any of this. I think this is a wonderful idea. How can you not like the European Finger Frog ?
And the prize is surely more interesting than the Grammies, Emmies, Tonies or any other prize which sounds like a life-threatening snack sold in a over-coloured packet at supermarket counters. However i do find the Germans go a bit overboard, they also have a tree of the year, a mushroom of the year (the Blaue Rindepilz), a river landscape of the year, an insect of the year, a generic animal of the year and I forget what else.
What a wonderful bird the frog are—
When he sit, he stand almost;
When he hop, he fly almost.
He ain’t got no sense hardly;
He ain’t got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain’t
(From the Rattle Bag, an anthology of poetry
edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes)