I worry too much about the world running out of green space, out of trees, and honey. (You know, that virus and the honey bees, Colony Collapse Disorder.) When I was six, and I had my very first piano lesson, the teacher explained that there were only 8 notes; “Are we going to run out of songs?” I was panicked. How could new music possibly be created when there are only 8 notes and so much had already been written by Beethoven, Bach and the like?
When my frog-loving first grader (now a second grader) was doing a school project on frogs, he found three frogs at the lake over Memorial Day weekend. Using a store-bought aquarium, we brought the frogs home with us, so that he could “research” the frogs a little more closely. Of course, also, so he could take the frogs to school for show and tell. I know, I’ve done this before; but this was only for a couple of weeks.
Our plan was to keep the frogs as pets for a couple of weeks, feed them lots of crickets, clean out the tank, and finally, put them back into the car for another little 3-hour drive, and restore them to their natural habitat, in the lake. Except, we ran into a problem when we were loading the car.
We didn’t have enough room for the frogs. The frogs were staying in suburbia. The weather was hot and humid, and I doubted that the frogs would live outside in the heat, in the tank, while we were gone. So, we sort of just let them “go.” The frogs were released in our backyard.
There is no water nearby, of course, in our backyard, so, in the hopes that the frogs might somehow survive in their new suburban backyard habitat, we tilted the aquarium, propped it up on a rock, so that the frogs could jump in and get water, and jump out to catch some crickets or mosquitoes, or whatever backyard delicacy suited their fancy. When it was too hot, they could find shelter under a day lilly or something. I like to dream.
A couple of nights later, sitting by the campfire at the lake, the bullfrogs were croaking; it was mating season. I started to worry about the frogs back home; the frogs that were probably bird food by now. I started to worry about the lake’s frog population, and how we may be contributing to its decline by stealing away potential baby frogs. As the fire crackled, and the night grew in peaceful stillness, I imagined the future. My sons, grown, would explain to their grandsons and granddaughters that “we once had frogs in this lake.” Real ones. Then, my sons would proceed to pass stories about what frogs looked like and how they sounded – especially during mating season. Then, they’d tell them the one about the time their Mom used them as a babysitter so she could finish painting the lake house. It was a sad picture. But I couldn’t help myself. I worry.
A couple of weeks later, the boys were playing in the backyard in suburbia and they came running into the house, screaming and all excited saying something like, “The frogs are back!” Yeah, trying to trick me. Getting my hopes up.
Well, the frogs were back. Well, I’ve only seen one, but the boys tell me they’ve seen all three of them. Turns out, they have been living in the tank, coming in and out for water and food, just as I had hoped. They had survived all this time.
In addition, we found a little surprise. The tank was full of little bugs. At first, I thought, maybe mosquitoes? Standing water in backyard suburbia has a tendency to breed things like that. I looked a bit closer and saw them swimming like little sperms. They were tadpoles. The tank is FULL of tadpoles. This time, when we leave for the lake tomorrow morning, there’s no doubt that we will have room in the car for the frog tank.