Managing Metamorphosis


Imagine being able to completely change your body; change its shape, its colour, its size, the manner of its mobility. Not only that, imagine what a challenge it would be to become an air breather after previously getting oxygen through gills – to change to a frog from a tadpole.

This is the wonderful world of amphibians. You may recall some weeks back, we rescued some tadpoles from a rapidly drying drainage pond. It’s not the first time we’ve mounted such a rescue mission. But the latest rescue was by far, the greatest in terms of numbers, resulting in hundreds of tadpoles to care for until metamorphosis. We shared the task between three households.

This short post is an update.

Over the weeks, It’s become clear the tadpoles are a diverse lot. Some morphed into froglets quite rapidly and climbed up the sides of the pond to disappear into the undergrowth, turning from black to green, gold or mottled brown, absorbing their tails in the process. They were not the largest of the tads, which I wrongly imagined would mature first. We discovered among them were  Ornate Burrowing Frogs (Opisthodon ornatus) which morph quickly as the water source dries up to burrow into the soil. They were followed by other species like the Short-footed Frog (Cyclorana brevipes) and various kinds of tree frog common to my area.


“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein


I watched fascinated as the changes took place as reliably as day turning to night. Some tadpoles died and didn’t make it. The only possible way to avoid metamorphosis it seems. Though change they eventually would, just in another way, as they returned to the earth. Others morphed slowly, or rapidly, according to their genetic code.  But all changed nevertheless, following some great plan which works in perpetuum in the background.

IMG_2791 (2)


Why is it then that many of us have such conflicting expectations of change?

How often I have thought: if I can just get through this, or that, everything will be smooth sailing; as if somehow change weren’t a constant in our lives, as if change arrived as an unexpected and not entirely welcome visitor, differing only in terms of its frequency and magnitude.

Far more sensible would be to walk out and meet Change on the road, greet it as one would a familiar, embracing it warmly, saying: ‘Welcome! I was expecting you’. What a difference that approach could make to my relationship with change.

After all, l only need to look at Nature to see change for the (constant) teacher it is.












36 responses to “Managing Metamorphosis

  1. funnily enough, my son and I were discussing which creature we would like to be if we weren’t human. WE discussed birds and great whales. I was watching a brief programme on otters – now they live on land and sea.. We cant change into something else but as we age our bodies we see those changes and they aren’t always welcome. Thanks for making me think

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this post. First for the frog stories — what a varied bunch of little beauties! Then for making me think about my own resistance to the physical changes of aging. Especially as they are so trivial compared with Kafka’s Gregor Samsa’s, or The Fly’s, let alone Frankenstein’s. Other changes I enjoy and initiate, but this body has been with me a long time, this body is me! I’ll get over it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I see you found my undercurrent text, Rachel. I looked at Kafka quotes but they were all so dismal. Your posts are always so positive and probing about the ageing process. You give me lots to reflect upon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ageing should be thought about. Rolled around in the mouth and tasted. And then swallowed! It is what we make of it, strangely shaped bodies, failing memories (one aspect of them anyway ), loss of strength in the limbs. But all these things have a way of focusing me on what truly counts. Who we have become and the examples we set. I just adore the time and brave inclination I have for reflection.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s as though the mind-boggling concept of evolution is taking place right there in your pond. I am glad that you are so attentive. A reflection like this, along with the pictures, really helps me maintain a peace-bringing perspective. Thank you, Robyn. No need for my morning meditation– you just provided it. (I benefitted from the comment section too.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s right, Albert! A little microcosm of life since it emerged from the primordial soup rather than my plastic pond 🙂 .
      I’m grateful that my post brings you peace. In the tumult of our current world, writing it helps me to focus on the wonder of nature rather than its precarious state at the hands of homo-erectus in the contested Anthropocene Epoch. Is this narrowing focus a product of my age? Or the state of humanity? Thank you for taking time to comment. You always have something interesting to add to the subject.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wise advice and I totally agree. But then, I thrive on change. It keeps my mind spinning into overtime. It’s probably why I don’t sleep much. It’s coming on to midnight and I must continue catching up with your posts. I need all the wisdom I can get!

    Liked by 1 person

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