June 20, 2007

A Boy and a Frog...

Here is a familiar sight for our day today - an image of a Leopard Frog jumping away into water. We took a nature walk today with grandma and Ciaran was quite focused on finding frogs - now I know you are surprised.

Grandma found the first two frogs and pointed them out. Very excited as these were the first frogs seen of the season - until now it has been toads and merely hearing frogs. These frogs leaped away before Ciaran could get anywhere near them. He quickly moved to all the sunny bits of the pond where they might be waiting and sunning themselves. Together they saw about a dozen frogs with nearly as many failed attempts at catching one.

Ciaran looked the part of a little boy on a frog hunt. He was wearing shorts and mud boots. The mud boots were a battle to get him to wear - he wanted to wear sandals - but mom withstood the power struggle anticipating what was to come. Mom was wise. Ciaran was covered in mud and muck all along his boots and legs and his hands where he stuck them in as he attempted to reach the frogs.

Anyone who has ever tried to catch a leopard frog knows it is challenging - they move quick, leap far and are very jumpy and slippery if you manage somehow to be lucky enough to catch one for a moment. It is entertaining and also a little heart breaking to watch Ciaran try to catch the frogs. He is so focused and determined and it is hard frustrating work as he moves through the brush, weeds and muck to follow the frogs. A mother's heart just desperately wants him to catch the frog for a payoff for all his hard work.

Thankfully today we had a brief moment of victory. Ciaran and Rhiannon were along the shore together and found a prime sunning spot - three leopard frogs. They approached each one and it jumped away immediately. The third one Ciaran decided on a different approach - he put himself in the water and the frog had no choice but to jump into the brush. Rhiannon was standing there and moved quickly towards it and the frog leaped towards the water and instead landed on Ciarans chest as his hands quickly went up and around the frog. Success! For a few shining moments he was able to hold the leopard frog - who quickly squirmed out of his hands and back into the safety of the water. But it was the moment he has been waiting for since October when they went into hibernation and the first frog encounter of the season. Whew!

Our nature walk also yielded many other fun things, most especially time with grandma. Sirah found a broad-winged hawk feather and really enjoyed the ducklings. Rhiannon loved finding a sumac tree filled with red admiral butterflies. It really was a beautiful site. I am so thankful for the time spent outside with my kids appreciating and enjoying nature. As I watch them grow in their outdoor skills and love of nature it makes me joy-filled. As Rhiannon correctly identifies a hawk and stands her ground even when I think she is wrong, or Ciaran finds a frog when everyone thinks there is no hope, or Sirah points out a bird she enjoys. Those are special moments that I treasure.

Sure there were some power struggles to get out the door with boots on, some tears from Sirah about walking by herself and definitely a muddy son who needed an immediate shower. But those costs are all worth the reward and the joys we had playing follow the leader, learning grandma's tidbits about different plants and animals, and just discovering nature together. Get out and enjoy God's creation with your children in simple and rewarding ways.


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