May 27, 2021
The green heron has been raiding my pool voraciously over the last several days. This has caused the tadpoles to scatter and the frogs to be wary. One of the large frogs has been out of the pool next to the steps, but even he does not go too far and sits staring at the bird. When I checked this morning, the heron was nowhere to be seen. I remember last year he only stayed around three or four days before moving on. Even then he would go back and forth from wherever he was staying. While he may be back later, the frogs have taken the opportunity to get out of the pool and get some rest. A big frog had decided to rest in the return vent, just two inches above the water line. A smaller frog was on the top step trying to jump onto the side of the pool. I watched as he made several attempts, barely missing the edge. He finally gave up and decided to rest on the step.
One of Aesop’s fables involved a frog who fell into a pail of milk. The pail was filled halfway with fresh milk. The level of the milk was too low for him to reach the top, and the sides were too steep and slippery for him to climb out. The frog kicked and swam in circles until he became tired. The frog tried to close his eyes just to rest for a few seconds, but he sank to the bottom of the pail where his nostrils filled with milk. He pushed off the bottom and kicked with all his might until he came to the surface. The frog was afraid and tired and just wanted to rest. Every time he quit kicking, he sank into the milk and started to drown. The frog did not give in to his fear or his tired legs, and instead kicked and kicked and kicked. Then, something strange happened, the milk began to turn thicker. Finally, the milk was thick enough the frog could stand on top of it. The milk had been turned into butter by the frog’s kicking and churning, and the frog was able to climb to safety.
When I looked online, I found this Greek fable was widespread and had folk lore status in several cultures. Most involved fat frog who gave up and drowned and a skinny frog who persevered and was saved. In Russia this even morphed into the folk belief that putting a frog in your milk will keep it fresh. In 2012, scientists in Moscow announced that among the 76 peptides in secretions of common frogs (Rana temporaria), many have antibacterial properties. The announcement and resulting media from the discovery was overwhelming. Discovery of any antibacterial is important, but the study sparked excitement for another reason. The finding propped up the Russian folk belief that putting a frog in milk can keep it from spoiling. I guess they were not concerned with finding butter or a dead frog at rest on the bottom of the pail.
Thoughts: Aesop always concluded his anthropomorphic (animals with human reactions) stories with a moral. The moral for the frog is this: “When your life gets really tough. When you think you’ve had enough. When the world works you to death. Just try to take a big deep breath. Try so hard before you rest. Keep on working, do your best. Do not give until you are done. Do not give up until you have won. Never Give Up!” This seems a good lesson as we continue to struggle with the perfect storm of extreme weather caused by climate change, death and fear from the pandemic, economic insecurity among the working class, and the social unrest that pits the disenfranchised against each other. Do not give up but keep kicking against the storm. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.