Kittie Howard

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Introducing "Kermit"

Kermit (Hyla cinema) lives on my back porch. We met while I was hosing down the porch. What's that green blob? I thought, diverting the hose in time.

Two weeks later, I can't decide if Kermit adopted us or we adopted him. He's learned not to perch on the door frame leading into the kitchen; we've learned to rattle the door prior to opening it in case he's forgotten.

With an emerging personality and a dedication to devouring mosquitoes and other insects attracted to porches, Kermit is actually a green tree frog common to much of the coastal United States, from East Texas to southern Delaware. In what has turned out to be an increasingly complicated, but pleasantly addictive sphere of interest simplified by Google, various groups of green tree frogs exist. Seeing a small green frog doesn't necessarily mean the diminutive amphibian is Kermit's sibling.

So, let's ignore extensive Google searches and stick with Kermit, so named in homage to Jim Henson's famous Muppet. Approximately 2.5 inches (6 cm) long, with bulging eyes, skinny legs, large toe pads, and a light yellow stripe along the sides, my Kermit appears to be fully grown.

Except that this morning's Googling raised the distinct possibility Kermit is really Clementine.

Male tree frogs are smaller than females and have wrinkled necks because of the vocal sac to call females. Kermit -- er, Clementine -- possesses a flawless neck a model like Cindy Crawford would envy. After a meeting of the family politburo (Mr. H. and Yours Truly), the decision reached meant Kermit remained Kermit. It wasn't a unanimous decision, even if there was logic to Mr. H's argument: Whoever heard of a frog called Clementine?

What swayed me resulted from Googling the name Kermit. Thanks to Wikipedia, this is what I learned: Kermit is a male name found mainly in the U. S. It's a variant spelling of Kermonde, a surname on the Isle of Man, a self-governing British dependency located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. Kermonde is a Manx language variant of MacDiarmata, an an Irish language variation of MacDermond. U. S. President Teddy Roosevelt named a son Kermit for a Manx ancestor.

The last native Manx speaker died in 1974. Thanks to significant recordings and attention paid to grammatical structure and other linguistic necessities prior to 1974, a language once considered extinct enjoys a slow recovery. Seventy-one students now attend a school where instructors conduct classes in the Manx language. Through this on-going process since the 1980s, two Isle of Man residents are now considered native speakers, as they grew up speaking Manx in the home.

So, in homage to Jim Henson's Kermit and to those who work to save an endangered language, Kermit remains Kermit.

* * * * *

After struggling with computer issues far too long, Mr. H. and I are going to the Apple store in Durham on Tuesday. It's a two and a half hour drive. The port where my mouse connects is the main culprit. I damaged one of the prongs inside, probably by yanking the cord. (No, not switching to a pad!) The secondary problem is this laptop is almost six years old, definitely a dinosaur with other issues in today's fast-moving technological culture. The other problem, of course, resulted from an unhinged schedule while this computer was in and out of local geeks' care. Simply put, one gardening project led to another and I, umm, played hooky.

The photo of the flowers in the above header is of my garden in Virginia last year. (The white spot is a rock from the quarry to restrain erosion.) My North Carolina garden is seriously bigger and on the edge of looking like the garden I'd imagined. (Oh, I hope so!) However, the garden also attracted Kermit and other critters I'll introduce as time passes. I'm learning so much on this porch, sitting here, watching the world go by.