It’s tadpole time again! After the recent deluge we had in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the drainage pools opposite my daughter’s house filled up. The grand-children watched hopefully, checking for evidence of frogs’ eggs. Last year’s excellent tadpole adventure was uppermost in young minds and they wondered, could we do it all again?
Over the course of days, the water drained away and the pools grew smaller and shallower. I think the children had almost given up finding tadpoles this season.
Yesterday we strolled the perimeter path watching birds diving and dipping across the water’s surface; just a few puddles remaining really. ‘Why are they doing that?’ my grand daughter wondered aloud. For insects presumably, we decided. But wait! What was that rippling on the surface? Collective breath held and anticipation mounting, we braved the muddy banks and went for a closer look.
Yes! The wriggling mass on the bottom of the pond was tadpoles – thousands of them. ‘Are they gonna die?’ my grand-daughter asked. A fate almost guaranteed by the rapidly evaporating water and waiting birds. I thought about how deeper pools may have offered more protection, a greater chance of completing their life’s cycle.
The quest began to ‘save’ them. Buckets were found and nets and kitchen utensils gathered to scoop them from their doom to a less horrible fate – a fish tank in my grand-daughter’s care with a certain food supply and no predators. At least until metamorphosis, when they would be released into the courtyard garden. This, only if they survived her ‘rescuing’ fervour.
The experience stayed with me as, once again, I savoured looking at life through a seven year old’s lens.
I thought how life is often lived in the shallows, with the challenge of everyday survival exhausting most of our energy: limited resources, job demands, bills to pay, career ladders to climb, borders to defend, both personal and societal. A toll is taken psychologically at the expense of quiet self reflection, the plumbing of those deeper wells within.
The un-examined life is not worth living.
It takes some courage to descend into the dark depths of the unknown. One isn’t keen to stir the murk for fear ‘here be dragons’. Or perhaps I over-dramatise. Perhaps there is simply no inclination for it; youthful curiosity having been stifled by lives lived too long in a shallow pond.
I, for one, take these moments with my grandchildren as gifts, because they offer a return to innocent curiosity, a way of using their insight to ‘see’ the natural world and how I might use it as an analogy for my inner one. A chance for quieter reflection, a space to explore deep wells within.
The dragons found thus far have (mostly) been benign; made mellow with age and close examination.
This final quote is for some special friends who need reminding.
Women need real moments of solitude and self reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.