A Little More: Surprises of the green kind
A remarkable thing happened, here in our little valley where nothing much seems to be going on most days, where the grasses have grown tall and the seed-heads keep them heavy and nodding, sleepy, especially in the late afternoons.
By then, the hot summer sun has slipped behind the ridge in back of the house; then, the light filters through the cottonwoods along the little creek and the sounds of the day seem to quiet, distilling to the essence of summer. The wind in the leaves, the occasional cry of a hawk, the faintest trickling of water from the spring.
A mood of tranquility, a spell of summer, until it's broken by the cries of my kids, "Mom! Mom! Mom! Come quick!"
I rush out the front gate, where I'm met by 3 out-of-breath boys. Carter, the oldest, holds in his right hand a butterfly net with a plastic orange handle. His left hand is squeezing the net closed. It's clear they've caught something and I peer through the mesh to see what it might be.
Their excitement is contagious and my heart begins to race, too. I can't remember the last time I've seen such a thing, maybe never? My girlhood wasn't overly-full of frogs. I think about what a frog might need: a home, some food, rocks, water? Don't they eat flies?
I rush into the house and return with an empty plastic container, the kind that once held an enormous amount of lettuce. We poke holes in the top with a stick and Carter deposits the frog into the new, temporary home.
We form a semi-circle around the plastic container, regarding its contents. Even as we watch him (and I don't know why I think it's a him), he's watching back, 2 deep, brown froggy eyes trained on us.
He's not really green; he's more brown, but whitish underneath. There are large, black spots ringed with black circles on either side of his spine. His legs are thick with muscles and his toes are long and slender. He seems big to me, the size of my fist, or larger.
He tries to hop and the whole plastic container jumps with him. We all leap back. My middle son Avery raises his hands to his face, his mouth forming a wide, startled, Oh! And I have to agree: Oh!
It's amazing, to me, all of it: that we'd be here, the 4 of us, on this airy summer day; that Carter, who I remember so clearly as a tiny baby, has grown into this brave and confident frog-catcher of a boy; that his brothers are next to him, the babies I'd waited for and hoped for and even still, when they finally arrived, I was totally unprepared.
I remember everything--the days spent in and out of the NICU and my one wish, an unspoken prayer that was so simple, yet it seemed impossible: Please let my babies know this world. Please let them grow big enough to have a life outside this hospital air, these beeping machines. Please let them breath real air, let them feel the softness of a purple summer twilight.
Never once did I imagine we'd be here: it was a dream too big to hope for. And since then, there have been so many summer twilights, and I am greedy for them, my prayer now is like a child bumping 2 fists together, which is sign language for more. I want more--I want these days to last forever.
And the frog. Sometime back in the spring, when I was making scrambled eggs one morning, or buttering toast, he was there in the creek. When I fed the wood stove against the cold and the little boys practiced letters and numbers, he was there. When I swept the floor, or loaded the washing machine, or tucked the boys into bed, all the while he was there.
As my boys grew so did this frog, near us, touched by the light from the windows in the evenings, or the rumble of the Red Flyer wagon as we pulled it past the creek. Sharing the same sunshine when the spring turned to summer, and witnessing the same thunderstorms playing across the sky. And I'm reminded of how all things are connected. How even when we sometimes can't see it, wonders exist right outside the front door.
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