Monday, September 3, 2012

A Lesson from Tadpoles

We have this little pond in our back yard with a small waterfall and several full grown (five I believe) frogs. One of my favorite things to do in the morning is grab my cup of coffee and my faithful cat Max (that's right, I said cat) and walk my yard. I usually follow the same path every morning. I have taken up gardening in the last three years and I love to see all the plants that I have planted grow and bloom. Who knew that the daughter of a self proclaimed plant killer actually had a green thumb! (Side note, my mother's nickname at the local florist was "Croaker" and it had nothing to do with frogs.) Anyway, the morning walk ends at the pond to check in on the frogs and the other natural inhabitants that live in and around it. My favorite thing to do though, is to watch the tadpoles. At the end of the summer in 2011, I happened upon a great deal at the local Big Lots. A huge round above ground swimming pool reduced from $300 to $60. "What a steal" I thought and I bought it. The kids will love this, it will encourage exercise, etc. I obviously did not think this through very well. It never occurred to me the amount of time and effort it would take to maintain this monstracity and it took away from the aesthetically pleasing look of the yard that I had been cultivating for the last few years. It did not take long before overly excited kids, both mine and ALL the kids in the neighborhood (never knew we had so many)caused a tear in the bottom. Although my son was extremely upset about this I was somewhat relieved. Between the chemicals and the algae,that was insistant upon NEVER going away no matter what I did, I was glad to have a reason to shut it down. Sure, I could patch it, and yes, I was glad the kids had a fun place to hang with their friends. I would much rather them be here with me than roaming the neighborhood and even I enjoyed a dip or two, but going to the neighborhood pool looked way better now that we had tried owning our own pool and it was actually cheaper! Let the draining begin! It seemed like it took forever for that thing to drain. Really it was only about a day but when I want something done I just want it done and I not the most patient person. Virginia weather has been a little crazy this summer and quite uncooperative when it came to taking down that pool. Even though we had "drought" conditions it seemed like every evening there was a shower. With a couple of inches of water in the bottom of the slightly unlevel pool I was in a bit of a quandry as to how to get the last bit of water out. It was to heavy to lift and to shallow to drain as the drain was higher on the side of the pool. So the water just sat and sat....and sat. Okay, a week has passed, summer is busy and the pool has been cast to the side for the moment, until one evening around 9 pm when it sounded as though all of the frogs in the neighborhood decided to have a pool party in my pool and I was not invited. The "singing" was really loud. Loud enough to coax me out into the yard to see what was going on. The security light over the pool came on as I circled it and peeked over the side. One, two, three, four...Nine...I counted nine little frogs swimming, floating and clinging to the side of the pool. They were so small and cute. I watched them for awhile and then called it a night. The pool sat for a little while longer. On a particularly hot evening, just before yet another rain storm, I noticed my daughter and her friend climbing into the pool with cups, scooping up water, and then climbing out and running to the pond. What are they doing? Helping mom drain the pool? How sweet. Actually, as I got closer to the pool I realized that they were not draining the pool for me. It seems that the frog party resulted in hundreds, no, thousands (or so it seemed) of tadpoles. The girls were concerned for their safety and were attempting to rescue them. After about thirty minutes of this they were exhausted and the rain had started. We all abandoned our outdoor projects and ran into the house. "Mom" my daughter asked,"What are you going to do with the tadpoles? You can't kill them mom! Please don't kill them!" First of all I had not really even considered the tadpoles as I knew not of their existence until now and second of all, I could not kill one intentionally much less all of those swimming innocently in the bottom of our pool. "I don't know Lou" (that's her nickname) "let me think about it." The next day I went out, bucket and cup in hand, to start scooping tadpoles. The water was gross and green, the tadpoles, uncooperative and the sun, hot as ...well you know. This is never going to work, I will be here forever trying to "rescue" these tadpoles. Hmmmm....I needed something bigger. Turns out the pool net that we use to clean out the debris was perfect! I could scoop a large amount of tadpoles, run across the yard and drop them into the pond before they suffocated! Back and forth I went scooping these tadpoles. My next door neighbor just watched and chuckled. "Whatcha doing Robin?" he asked. "Rescuing tadpoles" I answered, breathless from my umteenth trip to the pond. "Good for you!" he replied, "I would have just drained 'em" and he walked into his house chuckling to himself the whole time. I believe I even heard him mutter "crazy neighbor" but I could be mistaken. As I ran back and forth scooping I found myself talking to these tadpoles. "Come on guys, cooperate. Don't you know I am trying to save you!" Some would swim away as soon as my feet hit the bottom of the pool. Others swam right into the net. I worked and worked trying to catch every one. Over the course of three days (yes I know, I must be a little crazy) I scooped. What was even more interesting though were my thoughts and feelings as I scooped. I thought about how every tadpole life in that pool was important to me. I thought about how I did not want to leave any tadpoles behind. I was frustrated with the ones that would hide or get so close and then disappear into a dark crease, in the side of the bottom of the pool floor. The little ones, newly hatched, were easier to scoop up. They were niave I guess. The larger ones, some even starting to grow legs, were harder to catch, determined to do things their own way, hiding in algae or trying to "outrun" my net by swimming to the other side. "Don't you get it" I muttered outloud, "I am tring to give you life!" As I released each net into the pond I felt good. The tadpoles immediately swam out into their new surroundings and began grazing on the algae, probably thinking to themselves "so this is heaven!" Well, I thought it would be like heaven to a future frog anyway. I must admit though that there were those that just refused to be saved. They hid and swam away. Each hot day passed and the water slowly evaporated until finally there was no more water to swim in and they just died. It made me sad to see those little tadpoles struggling for a last breathe or dried up on the pool floor. "I told you not to swim away. Why did you have to be so stubborn!" I muttered to myself as I sadly counted the ones left behind. I did everything I could, but I could not save them all. Every morning as I stop by the pond and check to see how my little tadpoles, that are not so little anymore, are doing, I reflect on that simple experience and I think how God must feel as he reaches out to us all through his son Jesus. How frustrated he must feel when he puts people and circumstances in our path to lead us to him and we still run away and hide. I think about how heartbroken he must be as some try to "outrun" him and as a last breathe is taken a soul is lost because it was niavely thought that the world offered an easier and better way. Jesus said that he would make us "fishers of men". I realized that if I put at least half of the energy I used rescuing tadpoles into witnessing to family, friends, co-workers and even total strangers, then I will have done what he has asked me to do and that this is good. Possibly I too can help to cast the net that leads another to salvation. Life's lessons can come from the simplest things, like frogs and pools and tadpoles.

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