I'm missing my favorite season in NY: Autumn. "But I miss you most of all, my darling, when Autumn Leaves start to fall" -one of my favorite songs. Still, my inner landscape feels it in the air in South Florida. A maple tree by the canal across the street sent me a leaf on the wind during a rainstorm last week. Although it wasn't red or gold, it held meaning for me, for the fact that Autumn has always been a time of changes and decisions in my life. A time to harvest thoughts, stories, creative projects and dreams that have been ripening during the summer. One such story that I will share with you now has been quietly sitting in my heart, waiting to jump onto the page when the time was right; perfect that this story wants to jump, because it's about a frog.
I noticed the little frog right away, when I raised the blinds on the kitchen window over the sink to look out at the swimming pool. The pool is surrounded by tall trees which are home to many species of tree frogs. It's unusual to see one in broad daylight, even though their singing at night rivals rush hour traffic! The one by the edge of the pool was dark green with black spots, perhaps 3" long, 1" tall, with very long hind legs. Worried that he would jump in the pool and become trapped, I hurried out. During summer months, the South Florida sun is strong, even in the morning hours, and I could feel its glaring yellow heat on me. The little frog didn't move as I bent closer to him and it was then that I could see that he was dead. Judging from the condition of his eyes and skin, he had most likely fallen in the pool sometime during the night and struggled to get out, but not before the chemicals had burned his delicate skin and membranes. In sorrow, I continued to study this little creature, his intricate veins, the little spots over his eyes…so still.
Already, his normally moist green skin was turning black and shiny, like a mummy, as the sun rose higher. Small ants had begun to gather around the frog's legs. I couldn't help but notice the expression the the frog's face. His bulbous eyes were semi-closed, one eye nearly detached and hanging from his face. His head was tilted to one side, reminding me exactly of the way my dog Luke cocks his head. In this frozen posture, the little frog seemed to be listening to the call of a mocking bird from the power lines above us.
I felt a tremendous throb of compassion for this tiny little creature, who must have been scared and in pain as he struggled to get out of the water. I imagined him slipping up the sides of the pool, tiring, as the chlorine destroyed his body, finally making his way out, too late. I wished I would have been there to rescue him when he fell. I wished there were a cover for the pool. Lately I've felt so overwhelmed and despairing of all the suffering in the world that my heart breaks for the suffering of every little being.
Not wanting to leave his body decomposing on the deck, I found two leafy branches broken from a recent storm and gently lifted the frog with them, intending to set him down under a shady tree. To my complete astonishment, the frog suddenly leapt from the branches and soared back into the pool, where he swam with the grace and vigor one would expect from an amphibious creature. I quickly grabbed the pool skimmer and scooped him out, gently putting him under a gardenia plant. I ran inside to my kitchen and poured a small amount of distilled water into a cup and returned to my little friend, hoping that it would soothe his skin. He blinked as the water ran down his back, and I left him, surrounded by soft fragrant petals, hoping that he might be okay after all. When I checked on him some time later, he had finally died, his spirit given over to The Great One.
A thought suddenly burst into my mind: We are not passing through Life. Life is passing through us. I felt awed and privileged to have witnessed Life passing through the body of this little frog one last time, Life that made him magnificent and graceful in spite of his tremendous infirmity. We are all stronger than we think we are.
May Autumn bring all of you treasures! I am preparing to start a new job tomorrow, assisting an amazing audiologist whose very innovative work with children has captured my curiosity and admiration. Life is funny, in that it will always bring you what you need….and it may be not what you thought you wanted….
Until Next Time