Tag Archives: summer

tadpoles

The annual reprieve is here- monsoon season. We desert dwellers look to the sky, to the dark clouds which form in the afternoon hours with hopeWe need this, the nourishing rains, the plummeting temperature which follows in its wake. In an instant lightning rips across the sky, big fat drops kiss our face and we clap our hands in gratitude. Yes. 

The desert hangs on to nothing, and water rushes and rushes, trying to return to the sea. It flows down alley ways and pooling only when contained. In a flood zone at the end of my street, the dusty embankement has given way to lush Johnson grass stands and puddles. But even in monsoon the water is not always enough.

I noticed the wriggling tadpoles after the season’s first big storm. The desert toad laid those fertilized eggs remains unknown to me; I’ve never heard their mating song at dusk, or seen one hopping around in the grass. But there they were, thousands of tadpoles in the seasonal water stand. Undulating and undulating, some of them clumping together, some perpetually pushing forward, on and on. Countless miracles, nearly in my own backyard.

But then things dried up. The puddles shrank, retreated. The tadpoles become a writhing mass in the small amount of remaining water.  I prayed to the God of Rain to bless us thoroughly and quickly, thousands of tadpoles depended on this. I prayed to the God of Frogs that they may develop preternaturally quickly. My prayers went unanswered; yesterday they had evaporated along with the puddle, leaving behind only a greyish film in the center of a mud ring.

It made me hate the kind of world were thousands of beautiful creatures live and die in a breath. The waste, the injustice.

But then today the rain returned. Again the streets flowed, water pooled, and there are tadpoles once more. Well developed, survivors transplanted from other puddles perhaps. I watch them undulate with a renewed sense of gratitude. With a renewed sense of hope.

learning to swim

My dad is the one who taught me to swim.

First, my mom signed me up for a swimming class that was being offered through my preschool.  It went very badly.  First of all, she woke me up in the middle of the night (I’m guessing it was an early 8:00am class, and in order to arrive at the preschool in time to take the bus to the community center to go swimming we had to leave the house before the sun came up).  It seemed to be inhumane to wake up so early, especially to do something terrifying.  I was screaming and crying before we left the house, and I arrived to take the bus with tear-streaked cheeks, clutching a granola bar that was supposed to substitute for breakfast. I begged my mom to let me not go, but she murmured something about how swimming was an important life skill. I wasn’t going to win this battle, but I put up a fight.

I didn’t want to swim, and refused to enter into the freezing, chlorinated water unless I had two floatation devices around my waist and “water wings” on my arms.  I was no fool!  The pool was scary, and full of splashing, screaming children.  I wanted nothing to do with swimming.   I did kind of like being in the water and clutching the sides of the pool wall, however.  My main achievement after the 4 or 6 or 8 weeks of swimming class was finally jumping into the pool, with said flotation devices securely in place, into the arms of an instructor.

A different approach to teaching me to swim was definitely needed.  Dad started taking me to the YMCA.  I was anxious at first, but always felt safe in his arms, even if we were in the water.  He would hold me for as long as it took for me to relax.  He taught me how to float, how to paddle like the dogs in my favorite cartoon.  He gradually let me go in the water, and he’d have me splash my way into his open arms. One day, he brought me back to my mom’s house and I proudly told her I knew how to swim.

When I face my fears and float through adversity, I have to give Dad credit for showing me how.  He was, and is, a gentle teacher, an incredible father.

Grief for my mother has taught me the importance of appreciating what I have today.  Happy Father’s Day, to my dad, to my stepfather,to the other men in my life who have supported me and helped me grow.  I am grateful for you.