By Bill Hartman
I first met Aloysius last June around dinner time. While uncovering the grill, I spotted a small mound of something by the dial...and jumped. After feet returned to ground, closer examination revealed that the camo-surfaced mass was a gray tree frog. The prior summer, several weird creatures began hanging out on the deck. Research showed they were not aliens but, indeed, gray tree frogs. This knowledge put my fears to rest.
A hunger pang reminded me there was work to do; so with a long-handled fork I gently prodded the uninvited squatter. Nothing happened. A few more pokes and the creature finally stirred, leapt, and took refuge behind the drainpipe. All was again well in the world of Dobsis.
The next evening, removing the grill cover again revealed a gray tree frog. Gentle prodding produced similar results; however, after the frog's departure there remained a small puddle of liquid. Subsequently, the cover was removed well before prodding, and a new rapport was reached. The new visitor was Aloysius.
Dobsis is full of adventures. A few days later, turds began appearing on the windowsill. They were relatively large and unfamiliar – too large for a squirrel and too small for a bear. Removing them only made room for more. A mystery. Then one evening, I spotted a similar turd by the grill dial. Aha! Google Images confirmed that they came from a gray tree frog, no doubt Aloysius.
There are bugs in Maine, and after dark they congregate on lighted windows. Once I looked up and saw a small mouth poised by the bottom of the pane. Outside, I saw a familiar mass and realized that Aloysius was earning his keep.
One evening, there was no Aloysius to be seen when the grill cover was removed. Nor was he behind the drainpipe. And, when I cooked, there was an inordinate amount of smoke. Had Aloysius been cremated...alive? No body was found, but turds stopped appearing on the windowsill. Remorse set in.
Three days later, there was a pleasant surprise. When the grill cover came off, there was Aloysius...and Lori. The prodding process became a bit more complicated until one relocated to the safe haven of the gas cylinder. Awhile later, there was again just Aloysius.
A week or so thereafter, terror struck. The morning sun pointed to a patch of dried blood beneath the window. Had an owl swooped down during the night? A coyote? Sadness set in. For several days, there were no more turds or camouflaged mounds on the grill. Sadness gave way to despair...until one night there was a little mouth at the base of the window. And, the following evening, Aloysius was waiting for his gentle prod. All was bliss until the nights began getting cold and Aloysius moved on.
Here it is in the middle of winter thousands of miles away. I think about how Aloysius is coping, and wonder if he will be returning to the grill this summer. Can't wait to find out!
January 18, 2009