What I saw on My Walk

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Quasi Una Fantasia

An improvisation on the theme of impermanence, for camera and brain. (An appropriate subject while my wife Judy is away on a Buddhist retreat.)


Most days in spring when it’s not raining, Judy and I walk across this bridge, then down the dirt road to the left following the bluff above the river.



With her away I have no one to talk to, so I take the camera.



It rained like hell last night.  Slugs must like a wet road, cause they’re all over.


Judy always says. “Ick.”  But I figure they must look beautiful to their Mommas. Do slugs have Mommas? Don’t know much biology…

What’s this? Not another slug, a worm. Dead. Slugs like the rain, not worms.


Different strokes for different folks, or as the Dead put it, “One man gathers what another man spills.”


Speaking of spills, this is the steepest part of the bluff, where the road is washing away along with the guardrail. It’s the reason I drive around the hill the long way to avoid ending up like that worm.


This poster’s been here for a while. I have a bad feeling. Annoying as our three dogs can be, scratching to go out, barking to come in, fighting over treats, peeing all over everything, I’d be devastated if one dissapered.  Poor owner. Poor dog.

My wife’s missing too, but she’ll be back. (If she doesn’t decide to become a nun.)


Bet they didn’t spill any of this. This is where kids park to get to the swimming hole below the waterfall down a little path. I’d show you, except for this: (Also, the waterfall falls outside of the limitations I’ve set for this piece, my daily walk.) 


Beer’s gone, swimmers too. So is the mill that the waterfall once powered, a hundred years ago, along with everyone who built it, used it, used whatever it made…Here’s all that remains:


Here’s a longstanding puddle by the side of the road, which I’ve watched as it scummed over, turning into a little bog. Week or two ago we were walking when I heard a little splish. Over the following days it deepened into a splash, and then was joined by a second, and third. I couldn’t see anything when I peered into the muddy water. Whatever it was it was getting bigger. Then last Friday, walking alone, I caught a flash of green in the air, just enough to tell me what it was.  A frog. Three frogs in the mini-bog.


Now I approach the puddle, slowly, and there one is, sitting sunning himself. I have the impulse to sneak up real slow behind him from where he can’t see me and grab him, until he’s squirming all slimy in my hand. It’s what I used to do with my friend 50 years ago. Until the day he took one home and I watched him dissect it. That ruined frog catching for me. No, just let him sit.  But I can catch him with the camera, show Judy when she gets home. I fumble the camera out of my pocket, tweeze the buttons, and splash, he’s gone.


This puddle won’t be here much longer. What will the frogs do? Poor dumb mom to lay her eggs here. Poor babies.

I think –we’re all in a pond, not knowing when it’s going to dry up. The difference is that unlike frogs, we know our pond is going to dry up. Though not when. I hope those green guys enjoy it while it lasts. 



UPDATE Monday 


I go back with the camera to try and catch one of those frogs, to show Judy, and for this story too, to show you readers I wasn’t making it up. I sneak up and look around the puddle. No frogs. Now I walk past, but there’s no splishing or splashing. Then I get it. It poured again last night, and maybe that was the sign they were waiting for, to hop across the road,  down the bluff and across a hundred yards of forest to the river. Dumb Frog? Dumb me, shortchanging frogs, and mother nature. But how did their mom know to lay the eggs there? I’ll ask the next biologist I meet.

I like stories with happy endings. This is much better. Here’s the frog’s life: born in a mud puddle and making the great journey to the river.



It’s rained all week, so I haven’t walked since Monday. Today I’m walking past the ex-frog pond, smiling at their memory, when…plink, plank plunk. The unmistakable sound of three frogs jumping into the puddle.

Oh this is very bad for the frogs. And it’s bad for my story. Or maybe not…because now I’ve got no idea how it will turn out, which makes it more of a true to life story.

Anyway, here he is, and here’s hoping he’s having fun:


Life is impermanent. So, apparently, are stories.






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Yes, impermanence. The only constant. I hope froggy is having fun too.

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