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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lifecycles: Tadpoles, Scene 3

     “Come see our baby frogs! They have tails right now, but Mom says they will turn into legs soon.” My younger sister was excited to visit the baby frogs and ran with me to the large metal tub.
     “Where are they? I don’t see them?” Kneeling on the damp grass of the early morning, my sister and I peered down over the edge of the tub of water.
     “Well, they are just tiny little thread kind of things that move around in the water. Maybe they are swimming underwater right now?” I tried to find even one slight ripple in the water that might indicate some movement under its surface but it was alarmingly still. Mama Frog was sitting there on a leaf but we just could not see any of the tadpoles.
     “Remember, at Grandpa’s how the Mama Hen gathers her chicks under her wing so we can never see them? Maybe Mama Frog does that to hide her babies, too.” My sister might be right but where would Mama Frog hide them? She couldn’t sit on them or they would get squished; she was way heavier than they were. Besides, they needed to be in the water because of their tails. We knew all-too-well what happened when a fish was not in the water for awhile.
     “Maybe, she is hiding them under the leaf that she is sitting on.” The suggestion seemed possible so I crawled quietly over to the place next to the tub near Mama Frog. I spoke gently to her and asked her if we could just take a peek under the leaf. Seemed like she agreed as she jumped off the leaf and began to swim away from me. Oh so carefully I lifted the edge of the leaf to see if anything would swim out from under it. Nothing so far. Again, I pulled back a tiny bit. Still nothing. At last, the whole leaf was in my hand and the water held not a single tadpole that we could see. Oh, but this was not a good sign. Once again, we sought answers from my mother. Where had the tadpoles gone?
     “Well, I don’t know what has happened to them. I have heard that, sometimes, when an animal senses extreme danger for their offspring, they will actually eat them to keep them away from predators; but, I don’t really know what a frog would do.” Yikes that sounded horrible and why would Mama Frog think they were in danger? We were friends not enemies! When my father got home he did not know what had happened to them either but suggested that we seriously consider returning the adult frog to the pond. Wow, that was a sad proposition for us frog-lovers.
     I dragged my burdened self over to Butchy’s with the sad news about the tadpoles and Daddy’s suggestion. No, he had not said we had to take the frog back, only that it might be a good idea.
     Now, today’s Junior Wildlife Enthusiasts could just head for the family computer and Google whatever it is they needed to know. Back in the fifties, though, none of us had ever heard of a computer, including Bill Gates! Had we been able to do that, we would have learned that even tadpoles will eat each other if they are hungry, not to mention the adult frogs enjoying such a snack. We should have cut up lettuce in small pieces to feed them, not yard grass. Separating the adult and the tadpoles would have been preferred so that they would all get to eat and not the adult chow down on the tadpoles’ portion of the grub before they got to eat. Ah, but that would have been helpful info to have.
     The natural environment of the pond had provided the frogs with just what they needed to eat as there were a lot of mosquitoes and assorted greenery right there. Our big mistake had been in taking them away from the home that God had given them. We could not begin to replicate that home in our backyard and, of course, we also learned that their nuclear family did not behave in the same way as ours, no matter how nice it seemed to work for us. On the more positive note, we learned that God’s creativity extends to the inner workings of the animal kingdom, too, with a variety of unique stages in each lifecycle of His marvelous creation. Indeed, Mama Frog—if this frog even was the Mama—would do a lot better back in the pond; we could just go visit the frogs there.

****Lifecycles: The End… Coming Tomorrow

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