When I was a young girl, I vividly remember my friend who lived in a beautiful farm house surrounded by sprawling green meadows, and somewhere nearby was a glorious pond oozing with frogs and dragonflies. Every summer, we would find an empty five gallon paint bucket and place as many of these enchanting creatures we could capture into this makeshift prison. I would hike up my pant legs and plant my bare feet in the squishy mud, in preparation for my mission, which was simple … grab as many of the fattest frogs I could get my muddy little hands on. It always amazed me, how vastly different one frog was from the next. Some were still in their tadpole stage, barely recognizable in their morphing bodies, while others showcased a wide array of sizes and colors. Like the ultimate prize at the end of a contest, we would boast about who caught the most stout and lumpish one. With a child-like gross infatuation, we would hover over the rim of the bucket and watch massive amounts of frogs squirming and struggling to escape this uncomfortable new world we had created … they even used each other as a means to climb to the top. After we had nearly handled them to death, we would show mercy on them by releasing them back into their murky haven.
Earlier this summer, my husband and I took our kids to a frog pond in our area in an attempt to create some childhood memoirs of their own. I was prepared for a leisurely walk through a green meadow on this unusually hot day. Since this was our first time visiting the pond, I had a vague set of directions to go on … somewhere down the trail past the water tower. From my vantage point at the base of the trail, I could see the water tower, but the only way I saw to get there was way up the hill. With kids and buckets in tow, I was feeling up for the challenge. About five minutes into our adventure, I felt my age give me a hard reality slap. Steep desert trails, blazing hot sun, no shade, and we forgot to bring water. After several stops, I’m already on the verge of heat stroke and there is no pond in site. My family forged way ahead to see how much farther I had to endure. “It’s just over this hill,” I can barely hear them holler, as I’m fanning myself under some sparse shade from a mostly dead branch. Finally, the “Promise Land” lay just over the top of that last steep hill. The scorching sun had got the best of me, and so I sat in the dirt, with my head between my legs, praying to God, I wouldn’t faint.
Rather than let me give up and miss out on my own adventure, my wonderful husband came down the hill, swooped me up, like a knight in shining armor and carried me piggy back up the hill. My kids stared and giggled, and I can only imagine how absurd we must have looked as he’s straining under my weight , up that hill, in that heat … it was right out of a storybook. My storybook.
Once I got my second wind, I began taking in the sights. For some reason, I envisioned a grandiose pond. My heart sank. I didn’t see any frogs, but I spot what appeared to be a swarm of flies in the flattened grass near the pond, and when I looked much closer, I could see that they were hundreds of miniscule frogs hopping towards the ponds muddy edge. The kids began scooping up frogs in mid hop and dropping them into their buckets as quickly as they could get their hands around them. A wide range to choose from, but one in particular stood out to my daughter … her trophy, “Bud Bud”. Somehow he was unique from all the rest. After we gathered a disgusting amount of frogs, the kids gawked in amazement as they hopped and scrambled on top of each other … it was just as gross as I remembered. We ventured to see if the selection was better on the other side of the pond, so we took our buckets full of frantic frogs to divide and conquer some more victims. Pickings were slim, so we decided to release our frogs in order to populate this desolate side of the water. What happened next was perhaps the most amusing part of the whole experience. Several were thrust like a rocket from a launcher by my son, giving them an unfair advantage, but the rest … like an open water marathon, began to swim for dear life to where they came from. We rushed to the other side to see the magnificent race ensue. The pond was dotted with tiny movements as each determined little frog made it’s way back to the finish line. We actually stood there, until there wasn’t a ripple left on the water. They had all finished a great race. We all left feeling satisfied with our experiences. There really isn’t a moral to this story, but I did learn something that day: I learned that we should all have the determination of a frog … to not give up until we reach the finish line. Life is hard and we may not have the advantage that others do, but slow and steady wins the race. As long as we make it from here to there, we are all winners. I was moved by the amount of perseverance these tiny critters had … I want to be more like a frog.