|Rana by Russell Rosander|
Dedicated to my grandchildren, Madaline and Emily
Well, I’ve gotta tell you. There are still a lot of frogs in Mexico. Of course, frogs’ll live just about anywhere where there's water. At least that was true before the humans started getting’ careless and lettin’ all kinds of poison stuff get into it. Now, some places, there ain’t any frogs left at all.
Well, at least Mexico’s still got a lot of ‘em. A frog’s gotta feel lucky just to be here.
Well, you may be wonderin’ why frogs start everythin’ they say, by sayin’, “Well,” first. That’s because all frogs honor the first place where water came up outta the ground, the “well” of creation and it flowed into the Great Pond of Creation. That’s the place where frogs first got started.
Well, you may not know it, but frogs were some of the first creatures to crawl out of the water and onto a lily pad. We were some of the first creatures to grow arms and legs too. It’s hard to believe, but all life started out in that pond and it was the frogs that led the way for all the other creatures to come out of it and live on the earth.
Well, in fact, we frogs are still doin’ it. Frog children don’t have any arms and legs when they are born and live under the water all the time. Then, when they get a little older, they start to grow arms and legs so they can come up out of the water once in a while and sing as a gift to the Great Pond of Creation and because they are happy.
Well, I’ve gotta tell you, frog singers are about the best and in Mexico there are so many frogs that when they’re all singin’ together, they’re so loud that even the moon and the stars can hear ‘em. And when the moon and the stars hear ‘em, they smile down on Earth because it’s so good. Who knows what would happen if the frogs ever stopped singin’.
Well, Madalina and Emicita were two of the cutest little polliwogs you ever saw. Polliwogs are what frog children are called. What they wanted, more than anythin’ in the world, was to grow their arms and legs so they could climb out of the water onto a lily pad and sing.
Well, you know, if you try to sing under water, everythin’ kinda comes out, “Glub, glub, glub” instead of the fine, “Karoaka, karoaka, karoaka” that their mom and dad make when they sing up on the lily pad up on the surface.
Well, their mom and dad – who were very highly evolved frogs – and loved ‘em very much, told ‘em, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll grow your arms and legs soon enough and then you’ll be able to climb up on a lily pad and sing with us to the moon and the stars.”
Well, every day after that, the two little polliwog sisters swam in the shallows of the pond with all the other little polliwogs. Under the water, everythin’ is different than it is up in the air. The sky is real close up and is bright white all over. It’s really just the surface of the water, but it’s a lot harder to see outta the water than it is to see in. Down under the water, everythin’ is kinda shadowy and the stems of the water plants rise to the surface and disappear out of it under the shadow of the leaves.
Well, anyhow, they never went far from their home under the roots at the edge of the pond and always stayed close to the lily pads so they could duck under ‘em if a monster came along. There are lots of monsters in the pond. Some are called egrets, which are white birds with long legs and a long neck. Some are called ducks and the little ducklings all swim along by the shore lookin’ for things to eat. Humans think they ain’t monsters but just pretty birds, but in the pond, they are ferocious monsters who eat little polliwogs.
Well, Madalina and Emicita were especially good children and minded their parents when it came to being safe. When you live in a place where there are monsters, you can’t be too careful.
Well, they did like to have fun. Polliwogs don’t have to come up for air like their parents do when they’re in the water. Sometimes, when their parents are in the water waiting for nice, yummy, dragonflies to come along only their eyes and noses are above the surface so they can see and breathe. The two girls love to sneak up and tickle ‘em. It was so funny to watch their mom and dad, who were tryin’ to be so serious and not laugh, it almost gave ‘em the hiccups.
Well, at night they would sleep behind the roots under the edge of the pond, dreamin’ of singin’. Sometimes, when they were supposed to be sleepin’, Madalina would say to Emicita, “let’s go out and put our ears up to the surface of the pond so we can listen to ‘em sing.” They laid on their sides with their ears to the top of the water and listened to the great chorus of frogs, singin’ to the moon and stars.
Well, one time, they were listenin’ so hard, that they didn’t hear or see the little ducklings swimmin’ along the shore lookin’ for food. Suddenly, the singin’ stopped. A sure sign of danger. That’s how the grown up frogs warn all the little polliwogs that might not be sleepin’ like they are supposed to, to hurry and get back under the edge of the pond. They got there just in time to see the ducklings feet paddlin’ beneath the surface and their heads and beaks plunge down under the water, lookin’ for things to eat.
Well, every day, the two little polliwog girls played and swam in the shallows along the shore. Sometimes, they chased water bugs, or played hide and seek with the little toad children and the turtle children, but toad children and turtle children ain’t much interested in singin’ and that’s all the polliwog girls wanted to talk about.
Well, one day, Emicita had an idea. She said to Madalina, “What if we sang our song words into one of the bubbles that come up from the mud on the bottom of the pond. Then, the bubbles will float up to the surface, pop, and all of our words will come out into the air!”
“Well, won’t mommy and daddy be surprised when they hear our frog songs? They’ll think we’re really grown up!” Madalina exclaimed.
Well, they spent the whole next day, tryin’ to catch bubbles. It’s really hard to catch a bubble when you don’t have any arms or legs, but they finally squeezed a bubble between ‘em. They kissed their song words into the bubble and let it go. It wobbled and bobbled up to the surface and popped, but all the song words came out at the same time.
Suddenly, an egret’s beak plunged into the water, right where the bubble popped. It wanted to eat whatever was makin’ the song sounds! It scared ‘em so bad, that they almost swam in the wrong direction, out into the deep water instead of under the edge of the pond. Their mommy and daddy, told ‘em never to try it again, because it was far too dangerous. They would grow arms and legs soon enough and would just have to wait before they could sing their frog songs to the moon and stars.
Well, then one night, when all the frogs were singin’ to the full moon and all the stars, the moon sent down a special moonbeam. As it came down from the moon, the stars sent down little sparkles that swirled around it. The moonbeam and the sparkles came down into the water and under the edge of the pond to where the two little polliwog girls were sleepin’ and kissed ‘em.
Well, in the mornin’, the girls noticed that they each had four little nubs on the sides of their bodies. Their mommy and daddy told ‘em about the moonbeam and the sparkles and told ‘em that it was the beginnin’ of a great miracle. The moon and the stars wanted to hear Madalina and Emicita sing.
Well, every day, the little nubs grew bigger. Then, their tails started growing shorter and soon, they had to swim to the surface to get little gulps of air.
Well, a few days later, they started to grow fingers and toes and each one had a little suction cup on the end of it so they could climb better.
Well, at last the day came when it was time for ‘em to climb up on the lily pad and sing with all the other frogs to the moon and stars.
Well, as the moon began to rise over the pond, Madalina and Emicita reached up out of the water and stretched their fingers over the edge of the lily pad. All the frogs in the pond were singin’ their encouragement and there was nary an egret or duck in sight.
Well, Emicita was the smallest and Madalina had to give her a little push with her, new, long, webbed foot, but they both pulled ‘emselves up onto the lily pad. It was strange to be up in the air. They could see everythin’ they couldn’t see from under the water. They could see the trees along the edge of the pond whose roots made their home. They could see the fireflies blinkin’ in the branches and they could see the great curve of the night sky above and the big shiny moon and all the twinklin’ stars.
Well, then the chorus of frogs began a new song. It started out softly and grew louder and louder. All the frogs sang, “Karoaka, karoaka, karoaka,” and Madalina and Emicita sang, “Peep, peep, peep, peepity peepity peep.” And the grown up frogs followed with, “Karoakity karoakity, karoak!”
Well, then all the crickets and little lizards joined in and the moon sent down millions of moonbeams and the stars send down millions of sparkles and soon, the air was filled with ‘em all and spread around the world. Madalina and Emicita sang and sang and sang and well, the moon and the stars shined down on ‘em and everyone was happy because it was so good.
– Russell Rosander
Well, when Bar None Group co-founder Russell Rosander passed along Frog Song, a story written for his grandchildren it was apropos that it would run on Children's Day. Celebrated on April 30, Children's Day is known as El Día Del Niño in Mexico. Rivaling Father's Day and Mother's Day in popularity, El Día Del Niño substitutes classroom studies for sports, activities and sometimes presents. Frog Song is Russell's present to Madaline and Emily.