One day, the little girl sat playing by the lake and a very large frog hopped up. The little girl sat back and watched it, her mouth open. She’d seen frogs but she’d never seen one like this, it’s head big with protruding eyes, it’s body fat and round, and its color the luminous deep green she could sometimes see over the side of the boat when her father took her sailing.
Suddenly, the frog’s tongue shot out and caught a fly buzzing at the little girl’s toe. She was so surprised, she burst out laughing and clapped her hands. “How’d you do that?” she said and tried to stick her tongue out the same way, very fast, straight out.
The big frog chuckled deep. “Not that way, Little Girl. You have to unroll and flip it out.”
The little girl tried once more, lifting her chin, curling her tongue back inside her mouth and flipping it out fast. After a little practice, she could flip it out and touch the pink tip to her chin. Each time she did it, they both laughed.
“You’d make a very good frog,” the frog said. “Would you like to come with me and see what else we do?”
“Oh, yes,” the little girl said and climbed onto the frog’s back. She wrapped her arms tight around its neck as the frog sprang up high into the air in great leaps. She could see the whole lake and the lily pads along the edges. The water was so pure and the contrast of colors, aqua water, green pads, pink flowers, blue sky was like an unwrapped package. Some of the pads had the many-petaled pink flowers, but on others there were frogs of all different sizes and shades of green. Sitting. Just sitting.
“We rest between jumping lessons,” the frog said. “Sometimes we practice jumping high and sometimes long. Jumping high is good because you can take a quick look around and jumping long is good because you can cover a lot of ground in a short time. Then we sit here and remember and think about what we did. And then we sing. It’s a pretty good way to spend the day.
The little girl agreed. She’d heard the frogs at night and liked the different songs they made. “If you listen carefully, you know what kind of day it was and who jumped best,” Frog said.
Frog made two bounding jumps and plopped into the lake. He made a big splash. Little Girl didn’t know if she could swim but she decided to jump in and see what happened. She dove into the water and swam down, looking all around. It was beautiful. Soft ferns waved along the bottom and tiny schools of tiny fish darted in silver brush strokes back and forth. She saw a big rock on the bottom and there Mr. Frog sat. She sat down beside him. Mr. Frog turned his big eyes up and looked through the blue-green water to the sunlight far above.
“If you look for the light,” he said, “you won’t get too confused about which way is up. The way to live in water is to be buoyed up by it rather than weighted down. Not floating, but supported.”
“It isn’t always the safest way to live,” he said, as a big catfish swam past and rolled on its side to see them better. “But it is interesting and amusing.”
“But sometimes, you gotta move quick!” he shouted as the catfish darted towards them, mouth open. With a great bound of his powerful back legs, he shot to the surface pulling Little Girl with him.
“Well, that was interesting,” Little Girl said, panting as she shook water out of her shoes.
“Oh, it’s always interesting,” Frog said and laughed. “It’s just in the way you look at things. Time to go now.”
“Thank you so much,” Little Girl said. “I’ll remember everything you taught me.”
Frog shot out his tongue, capturing another fly. “Well, not right away you won’t. It will take a while, but eventually, you’ll know it all. But every time you laugh,” and his tongue shot out and snapped up a fly right beside Little Girl’s ear, surprising her and making her laugh, “you’ll remember.” With that, Frog leaped high and long into the lake.
So the Little Girl grew up and sometimes she remembered when she looked at the lake, but mostly she forgot, until a sudden surprise would make her laugh and she’d remember. Soon she was a young woman and she’d read everything she could about frogs, about transformation, communication, mystery, humor, and evolution, so she became a science teacher. But her students never dissected frogs.