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May 03, 2011

the life cycle of frogs

It's a warm spring day with nothing scheduled. The dad has worked hard to give his children the gift of a free morning.

I ask them what they'd like to do today. Play ball, go to the park, anything at all? Of course they want to catch frogs and other creatures. They've repeatedly asked for nothing more or less since the last time we came home with two bucket loads of tadpoles.

Off we drive with nets and buckets, to one of the many local watering holes; swamps and ditches and vernal ponds. Along the way we spot daffodils and tulips marking a season of new life, celebrating them with the excitement of Christmas lights in December.

For the next 50 minutes we scoop and slosh, collecting frogs, small fish, a turtle, and most of all, mud. Maggie never learns that thing about slimy frog eggs being gross. Ben nets his first tadpole; a moment that I never want to forget. You would have thought he netted Moby Dick.

Owen catches a frog and Maggie releases it. Luke turns up a small catfish. The excitement almost makes me forget about the organic smell that will linger in the car and the hours Amy and I will spend cleaning kids and shoes and laundry.

I know it's worth it - the time, the smelly car, the inspection for tics. I remember countless hours spent in the woods behind my parents home making new "old shoes," learning lessons in a small, mucky sanctuary of life known as "the swamp." The swamp was my favorite place to go until about the age of 13.

Then I had other things to do. I recall, a little later, riding my bike during college years at Slippery Rock. I was off to important places, and never had the courage to actually go poke around in the bogs and small ponds in and around campus. But I stared at cat tails with deep longing. The call of spring peepers was an instant reminder of the simple, joyful wonder of youth.

I've fished for trout, like dad did when he took me all over creation with net in hand. But that's just goofing around. I'm so thankful for the four tadpoles with me. I almost forgot how spectacular frogs are. For a minute there I thought there was something better to do than muck around in a swamp.


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1 comment:

Duane Scott said...


This was great.

You got a brave girl there. I'm a guy, and I won't touch frogs.