I am grateful for frogs. They are singing in my pond today, despite the chilly temperatures and frigid wind. They are singing with their big voices, a whole choir, one trying to outdo the other. “Listen to me,” one croaks. “No, me,” croaks another. It is the official song of spring, even though Mother Nature is displaying her hesitation to declare winter over.
I love frogs. Catching frogs as a youngster was my favourite play, an activity to which I dedicated hours and hours of my time, in the spring-filled ditches that lined our lane on Wilson Road and in the pond under the log bridge, behind the plum trees, a place where I found solace and sanctuary, a place that defined me well into my teens and up until the last day that farm was my home. The pond was hardly bigger than a bathtub but I stretched out on the logs or on the grass beside the clear water and as I watched “my” frogs, all of my problems vanished.
I am comforted by the song that drifts in my window at night, the sound that assures me that some parts of childhood can never be lost, the good parts, the innocence and perfect moments that make the grown-up world tolerable and less frightening. When I hear a frog jump into my pond, that plopping sound results in an immediate smile, an internal giggle and the sense of home washes over me. Wherever I hear that sound, in whatever pond, I am intensely aware that home lives in my heart not in an address.
Do children catch frogs any more? Do they have the opportunity? Do we talk about the importance of frogs and are we aware of their attributes? They eat large quantities of insects including ticks and disease carrying flies and heaps of mosquitoes. They are important to human medicine. Tadpoles eat algae and therefore help keep our water clean. They act as a bio-indicator of environmental stress due to their permeable skin that makes them more at risk to toxic chemicals that we pour into our environment at frightening rates. And we pay little attention, it seems, to what frogs are trying to tell us. Millions of frogs are shipped around the world each year for use as pets, food, bait and the like, and they are shipped without any standards of disease testing. These transported diseases have been blamed for driving one hundred frog species to complete extinction. Our social practices are annihilating frogs.
Frogs are tenacious to say the least, having survived more or less as they are now for millions of years, having survived ice ages and meteor showers. Perhaps frogs sing to remind us to pay heed, to take note that one third of amphibians are threatened by extinction. Their bio-indicator alarm is sounding loudly and are we paying attention?
And what about Kermit who came into our homes regularly for years sharing his wisdom and kindness, an example of acceptance and tolerance and he gave great advice. Kermit said, “Life is like a movie. Write your own ending.”
I hope my ending includes catching frogs.