Little Buddy: A Treefrog Blog
Back in July, I was having my regular morning quiet time, which usually consists of some combination of prayer, meditation, zapchen, writing, musing, and sometimes just staring off into space. In this particular case I think I'd been absorbed in journaling for a while. So when I looked up I was quite surprised to see a tiny frog plastered against the outside of my east-facing window, two stories off the ground.
A few days prior my husband and I had discovered a little frog on the dryer in our basement. We checked one of my husband's many nature books and agreed that our visitor was probably a common grey treefrog (Hyla versicolor), which we often hear in spring and summer. They are not, however, the famous spring peepers, whose frenetic but adorably high-pitched voices herald the early days of spring. When trying to describe the grey treefrog call, one of the books referenced ducks, of all things. To me their rhythmic trills are more like a cross between a parrot, a monkey and a woodpecker, if you can imagine that! It's an amazingly loud call for a 1½ to 2 inch size critter. (Scroll down for a link to the sound.)
In any case we didn't want to cause that little frog any harm. Both my husband and I have on occasion tried to help some small wild creature or errant insect, only to end up accidentally hurting or even killing it. So we have become wary of trying to "help" wild things, especially the smaller ones, rather than just allowing them to work out their own destinies. However, we were afraid that tiny frog might try to crawl inside the dryer, so deciding that it was better in that case to interfere, we captured it and released it outside, under a bush in an area that tends to stay damp. And that bush was almost directly under the window where this frog was perched. So there was a good chance it was the same one.
Why was it there? Did it think our house was a tree? How was it staying up there? Was it going to fall? (I know that the sticky mucus on their toes help them climb trees, but come on now—glass?) It was not moving at all except to breathe—was it sick or injured? It's underbelly, pressed up against my window, looked moist. It was fairly early in the day so the sun was still pretty low in the sky but I was worried that little froggy would end up baking as the sun climbed higher. Should I do something?
If I tried to reach it from the next window over, or if I put a big ladder against the outside of the house, there was a good chance it might jump and fall—or I could drop it—and it was a long way to the ground. I ended up deciding to leave it alone. And lo and behold, as the sun climbed higher my little friend shifted to a shady spot on the window. I heaved a sigh of relief. It did, apparently, know what it was doing.
So then I wondered, as I often do—what might this mean? Was it a visitation? A heavenly sign? What do frogs symbolize, anyway? It's always interesting to see what meaning others give to symbols, animals, etc., from Carl Jung to Native American interpretations. I also like to peer into my own heart and mind to see what a creature might mean to me. One thing was certain, this was one tenacious little individual. Not only had it shown up twice, since I evidently hadn't gotten the message the first time, there it was clinging to slick glass 20 feet off the ground. I bowed low in its the direction, honoring that persistence, and taking it as a gentle lesson. Then I turned on my computer and did a quick search.
I found that frogs often stand for refreshment, for nourishing oneself with water. They can also symbolize a washing of the spirit as well as rest and replenishment. Ahhhhhhh....those are lovely ideas to take to heart. Thank you, frog. And Creator of frog.
It also turns out that frogs and humans have surprisingly similar biologies and parallel development during some of the earliest embryonic stages. Oh yeah—now I remember learning that in high school biology. And St. Francis knew it. He called all creatures "Brother" or "Sister." With all that in mind, I wrote a little prayer-poem for my visitor, and for that early little frog me.
"Thank you for visiting me today, little cousin. Once we were very much alike. We went off on different pathways, but we share a common beginning, and I honor you for reminding me. May you be wise, little one, about where to go and how. May you climb to your heart's content and reach the trees you truly desire. May you stay cool or hot as you need. May your camouflage protect you. May you sing your heart's song, enveloping the surrounding air with your sound. May you rest safe where you belong, and if you go visiting in strange places, may you always find your way home. Here's to you my little frog self, when I was a tiny tadpole in the womb. May I always think kindly of you and all other tadpoles."
When I came back a couple of hours later the frog was gone. We haven't seen it since, though we certainly heard from its many siblings and cousins over the course of the summer.
We've already begun to hear the spring peepers this year; the grey treefrogs can't be far behind.
Next time I'll write about my dream of fire.
Grey treefrog call: https://musicofnature.com/calls-of-frogs-and-toads-of-the-northeast/ Scroll down to the 4th photo on the right and click.
Kouji Tsuru, unSplash