Tuesday, April 19, 2005
"Let's go. Let's GO-O," the child wheedled, waving the trail map at his mother. She, deep in conversation with a friend, didn't seem to hear.
He stabbed at the map with a plump finger. "Let's go to Turtle Pond. Vernal Pool is boring ! I want to go to Turtle Pond !"
I'd just been to the vernal pool and, earlier, had been to Turtle Pond, a tiny, pretty, pond set between woods and a field. A pair of young fathers -- an angular, dark haired man with narrow glasses, and an endomorphic ruddy, curly-topped fellow with an English accent -- were shepherding three toddlers around its edge. The dark haired man was being pedagogic. Loudly pedagogic. Boomingly pedagogic.
"OH LOOK AT THE TADPOLES. LOOK AT THE VERY VERY BIG TADPOLES. SEE THOSE THINGS SWIMMING ! THEY ARE CALLED TADPOLES. THEY ARE BABY FROGS ! SEE THE BIG, BIG TADPOLES SWIMMING. LOOK ! THEY WILL GROW UP INTO FROGS !"
"How, Daddy ?"
"Oh, that's complicated."
I peered into the still, bronze, cloudy water. They were hovering there in the shallows, looking back at me. Big, flat squarish heads that tapered into tails. They were the size of a small child's fist. A turtle sunned itself on a log.
Then I'd sought out the vernal pool. It was, after all, spring. And a vernal pool, like everything, is transient, ephemeral, fleeting. I passed a small greenhouse, climbed a hill, crossed a small pine wood and spotted the pool straight ahead in a glade.
It was a windless day, and the much of the surface of the pool was coated with yellow pollen and crisscrossed with black, sharp tree shadows. Where there was no pollen, the surface was dark and still and held reflections of surrounding trees. It was a complex welter of shadows and reflections. Opacity and transparency. I took some pictures.
And now I was headed back to my car. I passed a second group of Sunday strollers -- man, woman, three boys. The boys were laughing and talking. Two of them -- pale, doughy, crewcut pre-adolescents in sleeveless shirts and baggy shorts -- carried nets, and one carried an empty clear plastic box with a handle. The woman was drinking from a massive, styrofoam Dunkin' Donuts container with a domed plastic lid.
I didn't want to stay around long enough to see what would happen next.