I found a gray tree frog clinging to the wall in the faculty room where I teach!I have been trying to find one for years with no luck, and then while I was working on typing curriculum, I looked up just in time to see him take a leap up onto the wall. He had a ball of string wrapped around one leg.
He did not belong inside in this human constructed world…concrete walls and wall-to-wall carpeting. His home was in the trees above the vernal pool behind the school. There the garter snakes hunt for snails and the dragonflies flash in iridescent green, red, and blue swooping and diving over the mud and water. Ferns rustle gently in the cool breeze that blows beneath the shade of the Maples. I needed to return him to the natural world.
Frogs do not see in the same way that humans do. In fact, while he was clinging there, he probably was not seeing anything at all. If I moved to catch him he would feel the vibration and the breeze, but I would not be a part of his visual world unless I cast a shadow. Amphibians have the ability to see moving dots, slithering thread-like objects, and shadows overhead…insects, worms, bats and birds. Their world consists of things that they can eat or things that might eat them. It took me five minutes to gently tip toe the ten feet across the room toward him. Hovering with my hand behind his back, I angled to grab him. Gotcha!
I gently removed the string from around his leg and he gripped my hand. I had to get him outside quickly before he decided to leap. Like a mad biologist, I flew through the fire exit in the back of the school and proceeded to run through the parking lot and into the woods. Giggling for the spectacle of it all, I skipped across the grass behind the Wadsworth Mansion, hoping that no one saw me. I made it to the vernal pool out of breath and triumphant. I chose a proper Maple for his destination, but he wouldn’t let go of my hand.
Clinging… what for? You don’t belong with me. Was it the warmth of my hand? Probably. So I sat on a rock beside the tree to have a chat about why he should let go. I tried prying his sticky digits one at a time from my fingers, but he only gripped more persistently. I know he couldn’t see the details of my face, but he angled his head to stare at me as if to say, “What do you cling to human? What is it that you cannot let go of? How many ways are you blind?” So I told him my secrets, whispered them to this frog beneath the trees.
What was his reply? “Metamorphosis…let it go and transform. Pay attention to what you can see with the vision that comes from a clear heart, and don’t be afraid to take a leap into the unknown every now and then. Breathe!” With that thought he blinked, “Gotcha!” and leaped from my hand, disappearing into the rough bark of the Maple. No kiss, no Prince, but some really good advice. A frog had rescued me from my concrete box and wall-to-wall carpeting, and returned me to the natural world where I belong.