On most days after school in fifth grade, I skipped down the lawn in my backyard to the bank of Little Hunting Creek to a certain spot where a certain frog always sunned himself on a rock. I’d freeze when I saw him. I’d approach on tiptoe in hopes that this time I might, I don’t know, catch him or at least touch him.
I never considered what I would do after I achieved this goal. The goal wasn’t nearly as exciting as the hoping anyway.
I’d creep up on him and see him fling wide his entire body in a dramatic kerplop into the creek water, often with a corresponding, high-pitched croak. He shimmered green and gold and what seemed like purple. Something about him enchanted me so deeply that I imagined my entire happiness depended upon catching this frog.
He’d swim deep into the creek bed into some secret frog cavern, cool and dark and hidden.
I’d have to wait an entire day to find him in his spot again.
Today at the nursery where my husband and I traveled to find a few trees for our fall garden planting, a green pond sat still downhill from the collection of plants for sale. Lily pads filled the surface, but even from where I stood, I could see cracks where bright orange and white koi darted in the water.
I walked down the lawn, almost skipping.
Then I heard the croaking and the splashing. I saw the flung bodies of a dozen frogs shimmer briefly and then disappear into the pond. But one didn’t. He stood serenely on a rock. I tiptoed nearer, and a flood of childhood feelings washed over me.
While my husband busied himself with plant paperwork, I watched frogs. I called him over to see the ones still sunning themselves on lily pads. He remarked that he didn’t realize that frogs actually sat on lily pads. It seemed the stuff of cartoons. But there they sat.
I took a picture to remember an afternoon when childhood flung itself back into my heart, shimmering all the way down into the secret cavern of memory.