frog in the well
I have been playing cat & mouse
with a frog who is living in the well.
Possibly a leopard frog, or a close cousin,
it loves to lay in the drainage tube
or sun itself on the nearby cement,
lying in quiet wait of some prey.
Every time I approach, it jumps into the well.
I’ve gotten stealthier, and perhaps its gotten more trusting…
either way I’ve been hoping to catch it within a photograph.
Or better yet, a video.
Luckily, this morning, I noticed it was a bit slower to descend.
So around noon, I took my tablet over for another try at capturing it,
and saw that it was distracted by two dragonflies hovering overhead.
I’m not sure I have gained its trust quite yet,
but I’m grateful to be able to share this scene with you,
From the first sploosh during our first arrival,
I’ve been curious to really get to know it, befriend it even,
reminded of a passage in the writings of Chuang Tzu:
“Haven’t you ever heard about the frog in the caved-in well?
He said to the great turtle of the Eastern Sea,
‘What fun I have!
I come out and hop around the railing of the well,
or I go back in and take a rest in the wall where a tile has fallen out.
When I dive into the water,
I let it hold me up under the armpits and support my chin,
and when I slip about in the mud,
I bury my feet in it and let it come up over my ankles.
I look around at the mosquito larvae and the crabs and polliwogs
and I see that none of them can match me.
To have complete command of the water of one whole valley
and to monopolize all the joys of a caved-in well–
this is the best there is!”
(it goes on, with the turtle of the Eastern Sea informing the frog that
the Eastern Sea is a far greater world than the one the frog has mastered.
An ancient version of calling out the frog’s “big fish in a small pond” mentality.
But I include this verse as an act of compassion to this frog,
a tribute to living in this almost abandoned well,
waiting for the rains, waiting for food to fly by;
somewhat nervous about my semi-constant visits.
I wouldn’t want to be the frog, I’m too nomadic, I guess;
but like many of the farmers we’ve met here,
who’ve spent their whole lives mastering their fields and waiting for the rains,
I enjoy their home and am glad that they enjoy living here.)