The Brown Desert Frog

© Copyright 2011 by Ed Skinner
All Rights Reserved


Once upon a time there was a dark brown frog that lived in the desert beside a dry wash.

His home was a hole dug high in the side of the wash. And because this was the desert, the wash was almost always dry. Over several seasons, the frog had learned that the seasonal rain would send lots of brown water down the wash but it would eventually drain back down again.

And he knew that down in the wash and far beneath the surface, water would collect in a couple of places deep down where it wouldn’t evaporate. He knew he could tunnel down to this reservoir and, after making a small space, wait a few minutes for the water to seep in from the surrounding sand. He could then drink all he wanted. Only he and a few other small creatures could reach that water. Their under-the-sand pond was safe and would last until the next rainy season.

So, when the rain did come, he would sit in his burrow in the side of the wash and watch the brown torrent rise up. Sometimes he would be watching just as a piece of the bank a little ways off would give way, slope over and the water begin to wash it away. The frog would watch as the clump of sand and soil dwindled and marvel at how quickly it would disappear.

One day during a seasonal rainfall that was not particularly different from any other, the soil beneath his hole washed out and, sure enough, the frog found himself floating along downstream.

“Oh my,” he thought, “this is different!”

Looking around, he noticed a branch floating along nearby so he swam over and climbed up onto the branch.

On that branch was another brown desert frog who was a little bigger and obviously older.

“Oh,” the first frog croaked as he shook the water from one leg, “I beg your pardon. Is this your branch?”

But the older frog said nothing.

So they just sat on the limb as it continued floating downstream occasionally thumping something under the water and turning this way and that.

“My, this is quite exciting!” exclaimed the first frog.

Looking downstream, he could see a bridge approaching. But of course he’d never seen a bridge before so he didn’t know what to call it.

“I wonder what that wide thing is up ahead. It looks like we’re going to go under it. Will we be all right?” he asked aloud.

The old frog turned one eye to look at the young frog and the other to see what he was talking about.

“Oh,” said the second frog, “that’s where the Agua Fria passes under Glendale Avenue. Perfectly normal.”

The first frog sat there in wonder.

Agua Fria? Glendale Avenue?

“What’s an Agua Fria?” he asked.

The second frog studied him a moment before answering.

“The Agua Fria is a river that only flows when it rains,” he said. “And by the time you get out of this river, you will have completely forgotten that Glendale Avenue is a street with cars and bicycles and people.”

The first frog considered all this new information for a few seconds and, as he did, they passed under Glendale Avenue and out on the other side. In a minute, the bridge, the cars, bicycles and people were all out of sight behind them.

“Wow, that was something!”

And so they continued to ride along quietly on the branch as it occasionally bumped into something beneath the water and turned this way and that.

Eventually the first frog asked, “Where we are going, you know up ahead, will there still be banks to live in and deep pools of water under the sand?”

“Oh, yes,” nodded the older frog.

And then with a curt “Goodbye,” the older frog hopped off the floating branch and swam toward the shore.

The first frog watched for a moment but soon lost sight of the old frog.

The flow continued to carry the branch and the first frog downstream.

Pretty soon, another brown frog swam up and climbed onto the far end of the branch.

The new frog croaked, “I didn’t see you. Is this your branch?”

The first frog smiled but said nothing. Another bridge was coming.

“What’s that?” the new frog asked.

“Something different,” the first frog said. “It has a name and we might see some things on it. They will be noisy, have lots of different colors and some may be going very fast. But, don’t worry, they will all be gone in just a few moments.”

“Oh my!” exclaimed the new frog.

Sure enough, they passed under the bridge and, in less than a minute, the water had carried the branch and the two frogs far beyond.

The first frog sighed. These new things were interesting but, to be honest, they didn’t seem to make much of a difference in his life.

A wash is a wash and a hole to live in is still a hole to live in.

Not sure why or what he was going to do, the first frog suddenly felt an impulse and said, “Goodbye,” and hopped off the log.

It took him only a minute or so to swim to the shore where he soon had a new home in the side of the bank. Gazing out at the riverbed the next several evenings, he saw the water slowly go down until the only thing left were some little pools of standing water. He knew that, after the pools disappeared, water would still be buried deep in the sand.

And watching the sunset one evening after the wash was again completely dry, he announced to no one in particular, “Running water and bridges and all those other things are fascinating to see.”

“But I think I’m ready to just stay here for a while.”

And because he lived in the desert where the washes are dry for months at a time, he did just that.

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