I wish I could include a picture here of my newest friend, but I have only seen him twice and didn’t think to grab a camera. The first time was one morning in my kitchen near the stove. I was heading toward the skillet with my scrambled eggs when I noticed something on the floor. It didn’t look like an animal, more like a piece of trash. But when I knelt down to get a better look, here was a living thing, its sides moving in and out. At first I didn’t know what this creature was. It looked emaciated, covered in cobwebs and dust, skinny. But it had the rough shape of a toad or frog (in my house? in the middle of winter?). Even though I live on a farm, I’d never seen a frog in my house, even in warmer seasons. Where did this fellow come from? And how had he survived this long? Assuming that he was in trouble, what could I do but try to help him?
My first thought was to take him outside where he belonged. Then I realized that he would freeze. The temperature was in the teens, the ground was frozen, and he would have no chance out there. So I filled a largish plastic lid with water, and went to the windows looking for flies. Aha, a spider was crawling into a corner and I gently caught him and brought him to what I had decided was a frog, not a toad. He showed no interest. Not even a flick of the tongue. OK, I thought, I’ll just leave him alone for now (I assumed without any evidence that this was a he-frog). I left the water and the spider, and went on with my day. Later I came back to check on the dusty creature and I was delighted to see that he had gotten in the water (it had scum and dust and cobwebs floating on the top) and had hopped off to wherever he lived. I loved it! We had connected, this wild creature and I.
I cleaned out the lid and filled it with fresh water before going to bed that night, and the next morning there was more scum floating on the top. Not only that, but the frog was again sitting by his plastic jar-lid, hanging out in the open. I found a fly and a boxelder bug to offer him, but he was not interested. This seemed to be a self-sufficient sort of frog with a good supply of his favorite insects in residence. (What does this say about my housekeeping, I wonder?)
And so for more than a week, I kept the lid filled with fresh water each night, and each morning there would be evidence that the frog had jumped in and out of it. I never saw him again, but somehow this tentative connection with another life form was a sweet one for me.
And then I had to go away for nine days. Oh my, I thought. What would happen to my frog? (I’m sure HE didn’t think he was my frog, but I had bonded with him and in my mind he was part of my family now.) When I finally got back from my trip, of course the water had all evaporated from the lid, and there was no evidence of the frog. I was sad. Yet I did fill the lid again and put it on the floor before I went to bed. Why not? Stranger things have happened than a frog appearing again after nine days, right?
The next morning I went into the kitchen and turned on the light. Was that scum in the lid? Yes! He was still there, in spite of my absence! I marveled at the feeling of elation that rushed over me, all because of a tentative relationship with a little wild thing. But you take your joy wherever you can get it. And this unexpected alliance between person and frog had caught my imagination and touched my heart.
I haven’t actually seen my new friend since I got back, just the scummy evidence of his activity in the water each morning. And I forgot to fill the lid last night. But tonight I will remember, and now I know he is not dependent upon me. He is just fine without me, I think, but his life is a little more comfortable and cleaner with my small contribution. And I feel somehow honored to have this slim bond with a wild creature.