Down in the deep-south under the limbs of massive oak trees was a trickling stream. Green moss grew on its banks and wild violets graced it with their violet blossoms. As the water trickled along the creek the sound of plops and plumps could be heard adding to the calm atmosphere. Birds chirped above in the trees and squirrels jumped from limb to limb chasing each other in their mating rituals. Honeysuckles twined around trees and thickets giving a wonderful aroma to the area. Small fish flipped here and there. Butterflies flitted among the blackberry bushes eager to suck the sweet nectar from the rare hidden fruit. Just beneath the red clay bank lived a family of pollywogs.
Now for those of you who are not familiar to the pollywog they are also called tadpoles. Tadpoles are young amphibians that live in the water. They are in a cycle of change always changing bit by bit from day to day. At first they have no arms or legs until they are mature enough. They have fin like body parts and a tail with which they swim somewhat like a fish.
One such pollywog was named Hermie and his sister Claurice. They had been deposited by their parents as eggs around the roots near the edge of the creek bank. There they had grown daily until they were about the size of a pecan inside the shell. Each day they looked at themselves in the water’s reflection. Each day they could see something different about themselves.
“Claurice, I do believe I am growing some legs and arms” Hermie blurted as he looked at his reflection. “I sure hope they grow big and strong so I can jump so high I can jump out of this creek.” He sighed.
“You do have something coming through your skin. Maybe you will be a giant bullfrog” She teased. She knew full well he would never be that big. She swam this way and that moving her tail quickly in the water to pick up speed.
“I suppose my voice will change too! I just hope it is not one of those high pitched ones that sound like a girl!” He snapped.
“I think my lungs are developing because I have a strange feeling inside of me. I have discovered that I can breathe air if I get close to the surface of the water. Maybe in a week or so I will have my arms and legs as well as a great set of lungs like the other frogs around here. I hear them croaking all of the time. I just can’t wait to sing like they do.” She smiled.
“I’m sure you will have a big mouth just like all the other girls up there on the bank!” Hermie teased with a flip of his tail. “I’ll be sure to look at your small one now for it won’t be small for long. What a shame that will be!” He winked.
“Get out of here you silly half developed frog. My body is going to change too. The insides of my tummy will become smaller so I’ll be able to eat new things. I’m quite tired of eating algae and plants. I’m ready for bugs and flies. Um mm! I can almost taste a big juicy bug now!” Claurice replied with a slight drool making its way out of her mouth.
“They say we are in a state of metamorphosis and at some point we will lose our tails completely. Can you believe that? Now I have a big flipping tail and in a few weeks it will be all gone! Just look back there and enjoy the view because soon it will make a Houdini act. It will be gone in a snap!!!” Hermie bubbled in the water as he rolled his big eyes toward Claurice.
“Well the first thing I’m going to do after I eat a juicy bug is to find me a handsome prince just like mom read about. Then I’ll find me a nice cozy love nest and have myself a string of babies. I’m going to start thinking of names soon!” Claurice babbled on.
“Love and Romance is all that a female thinks about. In a year from now you will be up to your eyeballs in funny shaped babies. Enjoy it because the life span of a frog is quite short compared to fish. You will most likely still be right here in this creek two years from now!”
“So what if I am?” With my complexion and my eyes I’ll have lots of beautiful children.” Claurice commented as she flipped water into Hermie’s face.
“See there! That is exactly what I am talking about. You are prideful and arrogant. If you are not careful you will find it difficult to find a mate acting this way!” Hermie protested.
And so it was that within the month, both Hermie and Claurice lost their tails and began to jump onto the red clay creek bank. Each day was a new and exciting adventure.
Claurice did find a handsome frog and quickly began to start her family. You could see Claurice gripped in the loving embrace of her prince charming for days on end.
Hermie was not so quick to become a father. He wanted to explore first. He wanted to jump on tree trunks, hide under leaves, and parade along the creek bank to show himself off. He wanted to choose the prettiest female frog around. He really never believed in making quick decisions. The last time he was seen he was sporting a red top hat and a purple pair of overalls. He had two arms, two strong legs and NO TAIL!
So the amazing ecosystem continues and so does the miraculous cycle of life.
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Copyrighted June 2011
Question: What happened to the tails of the tadpoles?