Just being a bullfrog

The frog didn't seem to agree that a swimming pool wasn't the place for him.

Bill Curtsinger/National Geographic/Getty Images/File
The perfect place: A bullfrog peers up from just under the water's surface.

Taking care of our backyard swimming pool had become my responsibility. A new job for me. Not a difficult job, but it wasn't something I was used to.

On a daily pool check in the spring I looked in the pool, and then looked again. What was at the bottom? It had to be a frog, but it was so big. As big as a large fist with legs. And those legs were propelling it in swift, vigorous strokes around the deep end of my pool.

It had to be a bullfrog – a big one. He was a delight to watch. There was such energy as he circled the bottom.

For a moment I thought it might be fun to let him stay, enjoying the water, adding a bit of whimsy to my pool. Tagging on to that idea was the possibility that he might be a she, with eggs to lay. I decided that tadpoles and baby frogs were probably more whimsy than I needed. Also, I reasoned that the chemicals in the water probably weren't good for that frog.

He really didn't belong in my pool, I decided. With a flat net, I scooped him out of the water and placed him in the pebbles alongside the pool.

Given years of reading children's stories about humanized animals – animals that talk and think as people do – I was quite sure that my frog friend would see things as I did: The pool was not for him, so he would naturally travel to the pond across the road. But that was not the case. He immediately jumped right back into the pool. And I was surprised.

Again I got him out. This time, being wiser, I changed my tactics and put him outside a low wall in the grass and had him headed toward that pond across the street, certain that he would find his way to a better bullfrog place.

But that night for the first time, I heard loud bullfrog croaking outside my back window.

The next morning my frog was back in the pool. Again he was moving with those powerful froggy strokes in circles around and around.

I was able to get him on the flat net – a tricky thing to do with a creature that jumps – and took him across the road to the pond. It's a weedy, mucky, sandy-bottomed pond – a perfect place for a bullfrog.

That frog was a bit of an adventure in my life. I've since laughed at myself about it.

I've tried to make excuses for assuming the frog would do what I wanted him to: I'd been in a hurry; had somewhere else I needed to be. I was still not a pro at taking care of the pool and so was easily rattled.

But the fact is, I had been silly. I had really expected that frog to think and act on my terms, according to my expectations, according to my worldview. And then I was surprised when he didn't.

But he was a frog – and was being a frog. What could be more natural?

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