“It's on our watch that amphibians are checking out;
I think we ought to be very concerned about that."
To celebrate Earth Day yesterday, I took my faithful old dogs to a small wetland near our home. There’s a lovely little meadow nearby, and a small patch of woods which still very diligently guards this tiny old nature sanctuary for me.
The late April afternoon was wonderful – warm and sunny, with a delightful spring breeze. My dogs all romped and played in the wet grassy meadow, and I very leisurely sat watching them while listening to some very melodious birds in the trees.
But after awhile, I realized that something was definitely missing here. As we all now perched on the edge of this small wetland, I finally figured it out – there were no frog songs.
When I was a child, I used to visit this area quite often; and in the springtime, Frog Songs always filled the air here. I really liked listening to those Frog Songs, and it was here that I’d caught a few of my first pet frogs and turtles.
I would excitedly catch a few frogs and turtles, carefully place my tiny new friends in an old cardboard box, and rush home with them. My dear old grandmother would always let me use one of her sturdy old metal washtubs to provide them with a temporary home, and I would now feed them delectable bugs from her garden, and truly delight in their magnificent company.
But usually after a week or two, my mother would now insist that I take my new friends back to their original home. I, of course, would always grumble and groan, and my understanding father would solemnly drive me back to release them – “So long, little buddies – see you next time!”
As I perched at this now silent place with my dogs by my side yesterday, I realized that my first trip out here had been more than 50 years ago. And yesterday afternoon, I also realized how I now really missed those wondrous old Frog Songs. It just wasn’t the same here, without them.
Like so many other wild creatures today, the plight of Earth’s frogs is not a very good one. According to many scientists and biologists, up to half of the world’s 6,000 amphibian species are now in danger of extinction.
Today, Earth’s amphibians are being adversely affected by habitat loss, by climate change, by water and air pollution, by toxic chemical runoff from our factories and farms, and by a deadly new parasitic fungus.
And my childhood friend, the Frog, was once found just about everywhere on Earth, from the tropics all the way to the Arctic Circle.
Frogs live part of their lives in water, and part of it on land. They readily absorb moisture, and they breathe through their skin. But unfortunately for Frogs, their skin is also super-absorbent to deadly toxins and pollutants, and their tiny eggs are super thin, jelly like bubbles, which quickly absorb just about everything in their environment - both good and bad.
Consequently, the absence of Frogs in any pond or wetland today is a fairly good indicator of some type of air, water, or land pollution.
I could see that my dogs were now getting awfully thirsty after all their romping around, and now, I didn’t want them to drink any of the water here. So, we all sadly got back in my truck, and we headed home.
As I silently drove, I very sadly realized just how much I miss those wondrous old Frog Songs, and one day soon, children may never get to hear them at all.
©2009, Mr. Ed