The Blackberry Tales - 1 The Misty Frog

This is the first in an occasional series retelling the Blackberry Tales.  These stories have been passed down the generations in the strong tradition of fireside storytelling (think Noggin the Nog without the ice or dragons, well there might be some ice I suppose, but I am fairly sure no dragons.  Except for the stories that contain dragons that is).  This rich vein of folk-wisdom gives a strong insight into the ways of the old ones.

This first tale is about The Misty Frog.  It is said that frogs love misty days.  Due to the dampness of the air they are able to wander far afield in search of food without fear of drying out.  The foggier/mistier it is, the happier they are and the further they will wander.  They will gather at the side of the pond as the fog begins to rise ready to go exploring.  The more frogs there are by the side of the pond, the foggier it will get.  Hence the oft quoting saying 'I'm off down the pond to count frogs'* when it looks like it might be foggy.  Indeed, if you are not sure if it will be foggy or not you can go to the edge of a pond and see if there are any frogs.  If there are none then allegedly there will be no fog.**

Of course there are variations on this tale.  In some parts of the country they have the tradition of 'frog testing'.  This involves sitting on a frog and depending on if it squeaks or just squelches will depend on how foggy it will be.  I do not advocate such cruelty and I believe this practice is now illegal.  Even if you were to try it great caution has to be taken.  It has been known for people to sit on toads in error.  This leads to the legendary 'toad bottom'.  There is no record of what toad bottom actually is as the only survivors were only ever the toads and they just smile enigmatically.

*with grateful thanks to Alison Fews for the inspiration for this tale.
** I accept no responsibility for frogs not predicting fog correctly.  As with all folk tales, their links with scientific proof can be tenuous.