I’m watching the U.S. Open this Saturday morning, which is a first for me and I don’t know how much longer I can sit here and concentrate on someone’s approach shot or “up and down” on the green. A thought keeps intruding. Actually, it’s more than a thought, it’s a memory, a deep memory of a bright image that has come back to me often over the years of time and the ocean of feelings that accompany it.

frogs garden

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I was four or five years old in England on my way to the backyard toilet of our working class home. Something caused me to stop at the mint patch. As I leaned forward to smell the luxuriant scent of spearmint, a little green frog jumped out at me and I jumped back with a squeal. It was then that the mint patch came alive as what seemed like hundreds of frogs sprang from the dense undergrowth into the brilliant sunlight of that summer’s day.

They hopped onto my feet, leaped onto my legs and chest. And then just as quickly, they all jumped back into the mint patch and disappeared beneath its tangle of leaves. For a moment, I wasn’t sure if I’d actually seen them or just imagined the brilliant dashes of green flying through the air.

But they were real. They had just returned to their hidden world right in front of me. They had been there all the time, everyday that I walked past them to the toilet, but I had no idea before this moment that another life was bustling at the secluded periphery of my vision.

Frog thoughts came on strong this week when our sinks and toilets and showers all backed-up and the plumber convinced us that no temporary “snaking” of the pipes would clear out our root-bound sewer. There was only was solution…dig up the front yard, find our sewer pipe, cut it open and ream that sucker clean.

We nodded, and the plumbers used cameras and what looked like a Geiger counter to find the approximate location of the pipe, and then they commenced digging.

one foot

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Two feet down, no sign of the pipe.

 

four feet

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Three feet down, four feet…still no pipe. Five feet down. Six feet and the plumber’s head disappeared, but no pipe appeared.

 

In the hole

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At seven feet, they changed direction and dug sideways for a couple of feet. No pipe. We fretted and doubted they were digging in the right spot and worried our torn up lawn would ever be the same.

pipe 1

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Then the plumber’s shovel hit the buried corner of the red-clay sewer line. Success!

I peered into the hole and saw the naked uncovering of the pipe from its tightly-packed home of solid dirt. It’s been living down there for more than fifty years, unheralded, unseen, unknown. Today, it’s come out onto center stage, out in the open, literally and figuratively. My lovely little clogged pipe, the source of all our plumbing agonies.

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Back at the U.S. Open, I watched Erik Compton make another birdie, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the interior of his head feels like right now. He’s 34 years old, he’s in second place in what is his very first U.S. Open. This year has been his best and that’s saying something considering he’s had two heart transplants (yes, heart transplants, two of them!). He nearly died six years ago from a massive heart attack when one of those transplanted tickers skipped a big beat. Outside, Erik is all smiles. His stride, his sponsorship clothing looks perfect. Inside, there’s got to be another Erik wriggling on a very sharp hook indeed.

I think of myself, of course, in all these meanderings. The outside me. The inside me. At times, how very different they are. Trembling inside. Stolid outside. Sunny outside. Gloomy inside. I see my kinship to the hidden world at large, both animate and inanimate…the one that’s not easily seen until it surprises us and jumps into our lap.

Back together

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The pipe’s been fixed. All basins drain with alacrity now. The front yard is put back together. It looks as if nothing has happened.

I know otherwise, of course. I know what’s down there. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I doubt I’ll ever be able to walk up my front steps again without picturing the run of the pipe underground in the dark where trouble often hides.

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And today is Father’s Day. I’m meeting my two “boys” for golf at my club for 9-holes and a barbeque. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Damn near idyllic. I’m planning on having a great time…so long as I keep out of the rough.

 

 

 

 

One Response to The Hidden World Of Frogs, Pipes, And Golfers

  1. Dear Frank (and of course Annette),

    I must admit to “lurking” in the shadows, enjoying your blog, and adventures for a few years now… BRAVO! Your writing has touched my soul, so, so many times! I almost wrote when I saw a photo of you with your surfboard in hand…BUT yesterday’s blog (Father’s Day) is so right on. Much has happened in my life since our last hug just before you left for “Your so called Paradise”, and remembering how you used(?) to go surfing with your sons, inspired me on my upcoming 65th birthday… my vimeo page WILL soon have sort of a “Coming of Age” personal documentary of my “half times over…second half” begins… journey. We’ll be at Malibu’s first break Saturday the 21st (appropriately THE Summer Solstice)… at 12 noon till whenever curfew is at the “home”. Bring your board out, I’ll be the guy on the red/yellow BEAR longboard (remember Big Wednesday!). note: Barbara actually knew Milius in 1977..and visited him while he was sanding the first BEAR surfboards for the movie in his garage! Somehow this epiphany of mine to surf again… might just be Destiny. Be Well my friend, CK (now aka, Cow-a-Bunga Kerry)

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