I remember the Goodale Street pond in West Boylston very fondly. It was only about a half mile from our house, and we spent a lot of time there, mostly hunting bullfrogs. At first, the fascination started with the eggs. My brother and I would find some eggs and take them home in a jar, and watch them magically transform into tadpoles. I can’t remember if we ever kept a tadpole long enough to see it become a full fledged frog, but it was quite a thing to see the legs develop slowly. Such a beautiful thing of nature.
Bullfrogs were a different breed though. They were sly and sneaky. You had to creep up on them. You could hear them croaking away, so they gave out their location. But to actually catch one, you had to be quick. Slowly we would try to creep up behind them. We knew if the croaking stopped that they could hear or sense us in the area. Too much noise and they were quickly jumping in the water and swimming away. we did catch our share of them, and let many go back to their freedom. The ones we kept – well, you don’t really want to know what we did with them.
We used to live outside in the summer. Climbing trees, hiking in he woods, playing kickball or baseball in a pickup game in the backyard. we were almost always outside. I don’t know what your neighborhood is like, but I live in a rural community, and there are a lot of children and young adults in houses around our neighborhood. But I rarely see them outside playing. Do children take the time outside to enjoy nature, or are our modern technologies so integrated in their lives that bullfrogs are just an annoyance?
With our electronic age, are our children becoming addicted to a screen? Or is it because in many homes both parents work, and the kids are told to stay in the house? I grew up in a single parent home, so that didn’t keep me inside at all. My best friend was also in a single parent home. We went everywhere together. We had a tree climbing club – we climbed every tree we could get up into. I don’t see kids climbing trees anymore.
Are we too cautious with our kids? So worried they might get hurt that we protect them from any danger? Is there anything wrong with letting them learn the hard way? These are all questions that pop in my head when I don’t see children outside playing. The other obvious problem is the threat of abduction which is a terrible scourge on our society. That is a rare, but overwhelming occurrence. I long to hear the sound of kids playing outside like the old days.
The last time I went back to West Boylston, the old pond was so covered with overgrowth that you couldn’t get near it without a machete. And most of the water was gone. Has the world pulled a cloak over the eyes of our children, like nature has over that pond? Do our kids still have an enchantment with the mysteries of nature, or is it just something they endure? Do kids still hunt bullfrogs?
(I wrote part of this 2 years ago on this blog, and decided to resurrect it and add a few more thoughts)