Terre de Fer Frog, a True Story
On one of our trips to Paris in the 1980s, Larry and I found this pitcher in a small shop near the Seine. We had to have it, we told the clerk, flustered since our plane was scheduled to depart in less than four hours. Money changed hands, and we hurried to make a final visit to Notre Dame where, Larry said, if we were lucky, we could catch a recital by the great organist, Pierre Cochereau.
In a mood of imminent departure, we ran to the Île de la Cité and into the cathedral. The music had begun so we snuck into some chairs in the back, Larry in charge of the frog, and we caught the rest of the concert which, as we remembered, was an exquisite (Larry) if overlong (me) improvisation.
As the last note died, I looked over at Larry and smiled. He was red-faced, holding the handle of the jug, nothing more. The rest of the pottery lay at his feet in shards. It was now less than three hours before our flight and we had to return to our hotel in the sixth arrondissement close to St. Sulpice, pack up, settle, and taxi to Charles de Gaulle. Don’t forget, this was feasible then, a few years before the TWA skyjacking and its ilk made check-in such a bore.
Aristide Boucicaut and his wife, Marguerite, a remarkable couple, started Le Bon Marché as a small shop in 1838. That’s where the frog was born—who knows in what year. He’s fared quite well since his mishap in Notre Dame, even in the last thirty years since he’s lived with me. Larry had his magic man glue the pitcher back together—although truth to tell, the frog wasn’t broken at all, just roughed up a little, his surroundings in three or four large pieces.
Since then, the frog has moved from Paris to Manhattan to Brooklyn to New Jersey to Illinois. My sweet Larry has left this life but still talks to me—and to the frog, of course. Me? My hair's gotten gray, coiffed in old-lady-respectable. Meanwhile my reptilian friend sits amid books on a shelf, still swatting bees.