Last summer, right after we moved into our new house, I had visions of a huge, beautiful, full vegetable garden that we would create. We would prepare the bed in the fall, plant it in the spring, and enjoy the fruits of our labor all summer.
It didn't happen.
And it's not going to happen this year.
Other things came up....like a patio that we wanted to expand to make it more usable and a yard with several drainage and erosion "challenges,"that required us to call in the experts to fix. And there's that baby running around all over the place....too big to keep contained in one spot, too little to allow to run around with the big kids (there are just so many things to be picked up and eaten!). And life, as it always does, has gotten in the way...with places to go, people to see, and chores to do, the weekends of spring are slipping by. So the vegetable garden will have to wait.
But there's something about the beginning of spring--it's the neon green of the leaves...the earthy, fragrant scent of the ground waking up... that makes me (and the rest of the world, I'm sure) want to go outside and get my hands dirty, so I have been missing my garden the last few weeks.
I could hardly contain my excitement when my friend Clare texted me last week with Very Big News: She and her kids had discovered a Tadpole Pond! Did we want to go collect tadpoles after school the next day? YES! We did! Mud and muck and dirt and earth and nature and SCIENCE! Hooray!
(Retroactive Nerd Alert.)
Thursday, after school, we pulled on our muck boots and dusted off our bug bin. I strapped the baby into the Ergo pouch and we were off on an adventure. A tadpole adventure! We met up with our buddies and paired up: Two six-year olds in front, two mamas with babies in pouches in the middle, and two dawdling three-year olds bringing up the rear.
We traipsed through the fields, alongside the creek, over a few bridges, until we reached the edge of the woods, tucked way deep down in the middle of our neighborhood. It was a long, pleasant walk...with occasional shouts of "Wait up!" or "It's my turn with the walking stick!" or "Stop swinging the walking stick so close to your brother!" And then, finally, we reached the pond. Mud puddle, really. And the tadpole collecting began!
I had wanted to get pictures, but with six kids between us; two of them sword-fighting with bamboo sticks, two of them up to their knees in mud, two of them strapped to our bellies and squirming to get down into the mud with the big kids, and two containers of slippery tadpoles, dripping slimy, muddy water down our arms, neither Clare nor I was able to properly capture the moment.
That's what our return trip was for...for the pictures and to bring more friends back for tadpole collecting...and to collect more ourselves, these to bring in to Evan's classroom.
Saturday afternoon at the Tadpole Pond (also, with Daddy reinforcements, so Mommy could take the pictures):
This kid was the expert Spotter. He knew exactly where to place his jar to capture the squirmiest, liveliest 'poles of the pond. And he didn't stop trying until they were caught.
But this boy?
Oh, this boy was in it for the mud.
I think they could have stayed all day...
But we had to get home! We had a tadpole habitat to create! We had scooped up as much mud and pond water as would fit in our bug bin with the tadpoles. We wanted to put them in a larger bin at home, though, so we added some creek water from the creek across the street...and some rocks and sticks for the froglets to practice crawling up on once those legs develop. Our bin is deep, with high sides but only a few inches of water. We don't want those frogs hopping out too soon...
But for now, we watch them swim.
One of the kindergarten teachers at Evan's school gave him some Tadpole Food pellets to bring home. (A rather niche business, Tadpole Food pellet-production, don't you think?)
When that runs out, our neighbor, a veteran tadpole-raiser, suggested mashing up any leafy green...spinach, spring mix, whatever, as a quick and easy do-it-yourself tadpole food.
Our springtime pets. Perfect pets, really, as they live outside and will shortly be released back into their natural environment.
Yay for spring! And, Yay for science! And, Yay for tadpoles! (And fingers crossed for a high success rate of tadpoles to frogs!)