She looks like a child, expectant, this seventy four year old woman as she approaches the lake to collect more “toadpoles,” her word for tadpoles that are Eastern toads in the making.
The wiggly black dots swimming around in sandy shallows are such a welcome sight. She has been searching for them all spring. Just the week before (June 12) she heard toads trilling in unison in a boggy place across the pond; the solitary strings would appear within days. She thought she had missed her toad opportunity because she cut her hand and couldn’t go out in her kayak to search for eggs… then today when while walking, she glimpsed the tadpoles huddled together by the shore. Natural Grace had intervened.
The water is clear until she muddies it with her boots; the tadpoles scatter and it is a challenge to catch even one. Depositing a single toadpole in her bucket she bends low to capture another, impressed by the wily behavior of these creatures who seem to know that she is after them. One by one she scoops up the little black bodies, pouring them gently into her bucket. She doesn’t like frightening them.
The child in her is thrilled, living in the moment. She has been raising tadpoles and catching frogs and toads for most of her life.
The aging adult has fallen away, her fears stilled by being alive in the immediate present. She will place some of her catch in the small pond by the garden, the one the bears drink from, and the others will find homes in the vernal pond she dug next to the brook.
With all amphibians the most endangered species on earth, she hopes that her small ponds will allow them to transform safely into healthy wetland creatures who will seek out the deep shade of the forest, emerald mosses, and moisture that she can provide. She simply wants them to live. She can’t imagine an Earth without a symphony of frog songs and toad trills and doesn’t want to try.
The day is blue and gold with a light northwest wind – she notes the date – June 17th – the day the toadpoles found her at the edge of North Pond.