Frog: The Wide Mouthed Wonder by Bernie Jordan


I stare into the murky depths of the garden pond. There’s a slow swirl of waking life. Mud stirs below. A bulging form mottled green and glistening smooth, floats then surfaces. Here he is, a bulgy eyed, bulgy bellied, bulgy thighed frog. With bulging cheeks, he croaks his rasping love song.

One morning, a cloud of burnished silver heaps up from the pond’s surface. Frogs have spawned and I’m ever awed at plenitude. Countless cloud-like clumps, impossibly bulbous balloon with pond water. I know again the joy of spring. A fascinating mass of jelly stretches but holds together. Each ball containing a bead of life; a clumped coagulation of abundance.

I watch over the days that come, see black full stops turn to commas. Jelly turns to mush and the sentence of life has begun. Tadpoles squirm, crowd together in a clump and writhe like a pit of miniature snakes. One movement sets off a chain reaction, making the water fizz with tiny ripples.

Gradually the tadpoles grow and disperse to take their chances in the far reaches of the pond. They feast on last Autumn’s blackened leaves, sink to muddy depths then zip their way back up on shuddering tails to gulp air with kissing lips, leaving tiny bubbles where their open mouths break the surface. 

Numbers fall, newts and dragon fly nymphs take a huge toll. But slowly, slowly a drastic change of form occurs. Legs sprout, straddling shrinking tails. Survivors crawl from the water, miniature carnivores now. A mist of midges spins a dance of life; a frog’s coiled tongue springs into their midst, bringing death- to some. Each surviving frog has earned its step up the food chain.