May 21, 2007

Frog pond

Stalking the frog

This weekend on a walk with the younger kids, we came across a pond filled with frogs, big green frogs that leaped into the water as we approached, frogs with big bulgy eyes that floated in the water, looking up at us. My husband and I found a bench where we could sit in the spring sunshine and talk while the kids spent hours playing along the edge of the pond, entertaining themselves with the frogs.

What is it about snakes, turtles, and frogs that is so appealing to kids? It seems like there's always at least one kid in every group that wants to catch a creature and look at it up close. In my family, it was Blonde Sister. She was (and still is) especially expert at catching turtles. She'd go off in a rowboat and return minutes later with a turtle. She'd hold it carefully, while we would gather around to inspect it up close, looking at the markings along the shell and the way the head pulled back underneath. Then she'd put it carefully into the shallow muddy water, and we'd watch it swim away.

The frogs in this pond had that same kind of allure. Skater Boy, determined to catch one, took off his sneakers he could wade in the pond. He'd stalk a frog, slowly, patiently, moving closer and closer, whispering a narrative to the other kids, "I've almost got him, I'm really close, he's just right there." Then he'd make a sudden frenzied leap at the creature. "I've got him! I've got him! I've – oh, crap!"

Every once in a while, I'd look across the pond and warn the kids, "Don't hurt the frogs," but the warning hardly seemed necessary since the frogs seemed much faster than the kids. Clearly, none of these kids have reached the level of expertise of Blonde Sister.

Older Neighbor Boy knelt down in the mud in what looked like an attempt to hypnotize the frog. Shaggy Hair Boy had sort of an impatient approach – he kept circling about and changing his strategy, and when he finally did get a frog in his hands, he jumped up and down screaming in such an excited way that I thought maybe he had stepped into a nest of yellow jackets.

With-a-Why, my quiet youngest child, took the Zen approach. He sat on the edge of the pond, perfectly still, watching the antics of the other boys, and waited for the frogs to come to him.

By the pond

With-a-Why in the foreground, with Older Neighbor Boy and Shaggy Hair Boy on the far bank. And the boy in the top photo is Skater Boy.


Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Skater Boy's got the perfect stance!

(It looks snowboard-inspired. Does he board as well as skate?)

Kyla said...

Oh, I love that photo of With-a-Why. Breathtaking.

jo(e) said...

Jennifer: Yep. Skater Boy started snowboarding with us two years ago, and he was a natural from the beginning.

Kyla: Thanks. I think it captures his personality -- he sat there like that for about 45 minutes ....

liz said...

What do you feed your family and extras that they all have gorgeous hair?

Hel said...

First you bewitched me with your white photos and now I am enchanted with all the green.

Mona Buonanotte said...

I've said it before, but you have a gorgeous family! Even if we can't see their faces! green there! You could just reach up and eat all that green!

Rana said...

When my brother and I were little, we'd catch toads in the sandpile - they were much easier to catch than frogs!

Once though, my brother did manage to capture a bullfrog - but he only held onto it for a few seconds before it leapt free. When I asked him what happened, he said, eyes wide, "It flexed!"

Thank you for reminding me of this! :)

frog said...

I grew up catching frogs with my cousins. There were five of us, and the littlest one, E, could never catch one, so I'd slip them into his bucket. He never knew.

After we were too old to do these things, a few more cousins were born and E would take them to the pond. One day, I caught him slipping frogs into the littlest one's bucket because she couldn't catch them. He saw me watching and gave me the world's biggest grin.

wwwmama said...

beautiful pictures. You've taken me back to a frog hunting expedition of my youth in a particular swampy, misty field in Southwest Ireland. I'd never felt so bold, so free, or so alive as when I explored those fields with some local friends.

September Blue said...

With-a-Why has the right approach! I used to catch frogs when me and my brothers were kids by holding my hand out flat in the water, and waiting for a long, long time.

Mieke said...

I was that girl - the frog catching, salamander catching, dirt digging expert.

It's one of the reasons I take the boys on our "bear hunts" because in suburban Los Angeles with the landscaped lawns and the houses close together there is not a lot of opportunity for the boys and me to do that kind of fantatastic hunting.

Though we do do a lot of sandcrab digging - that counts - kind of.