Sometimes, part of frog crew field work feels a lot like the best sort of fiction. It becomes a day-dream with you the star of every sort of fiction you wish you could live in.
You are a wolf. Stealthily stalking your prize, sniffing them out. You take careful steps, make note of where the wind blows and where your shadow might fall. Careful to make no sound (ok, just to not make too much noise), careful to not let your eyes lose sight of that which you seek. Your movements become nearly stillness instead as you make the final approach before a lighting-fast sweep of your net to capture the frog. A howl of victory escapes your lips, and then, after biological data is taken, you re-release them. Your joy is in the hunt, and no harm is ever done to the frog.
And to find these said frogs, you become an explorer of uncharted lands. The land seems untouched previously by others, and no definitive path through the stream bed can be found. You must go your own way, pioneer your own route from rock to rock, over boulders, up granite surfaces. It seems endless, and you know not what the next bend might have in store. You reach vistas that you can hardly drink in enough for their splendor. You ponder at how you will ever be able to report that which you see, paint the picture well enough (even with the use of digital cameras). The awe of it all tempts you to distraction, but only a moment before you are back to discovering your aim.
The dream shifts, and you are now a detective . Your assignment: find, capture, and re-release all the frogs that can be found. You must think like a frog. You must see as the frog sees so you can sort out where they might dwell (elementary, my dear Watson). At times, a frog will plop into the water before you can net it, which leads to the textbook stakeout. You will wait as long as it takes for that frog to resurface, swim back up from his hidey-hole under the submerged rock, to peak his head back from log he fled beneath. You are the master of patience. You are the king of stillness. You can wait him out in this waiting contest. This is a battle of will, and you are the definition of willful.
When the frog does show his face once more, he is caught. It is then you become a desperado, quick to the draw with your pit-tagging scanner gun. You whip it out of your holster (ok, the handle is stuffed precariously in your pant’s pocket or tucked between your hip bone and the waist strap of your day-pack). You are the master of this duel. You press the button before the frog even has time to blink its eyes, which scans him to determine whether or not it has a pit tag ID number. Victorious! You have the number and write it on your data sheet…and then re-release the frog to its watery home.
The dream continues, and you become a gymnast. You walk the balance beam that is every log laying in any pond, across every stream. You use your net as balance in your hands, carefully placing each foot, going out as far on the log into the murky pond as you dare, until your courage runs thin, until you are fairly certain no frogs are sighted. And then, you do a graceful about-face, retracing damp footsteps on the log that got you out, making a perfect dismount (you’re sure to get the gold medal in this contest-of-one).
And when you reach shore once more, your day-dream takes you into a fairy kingdom. As you look out over the pond, it becomes alive in both fantasy and prehistoric history. The flies that flutter in the patchy sunlight filtering through pine branches above become fairies. The aquatic grasses are alive, dancing to the tune sung by the breeze. Dragonflies with black & white striped wings skate on the pond’s surface with neon blue damselflies, in a chaotic choreography. And beneath the surface is a metropolis of prehistoric creatures in miniature. Aquatic insects of an incredible variety scuttle about with an armament and structuring that make you understand dinosaurs better. Tadpoles and salamander larvae with gills and an awkward combination of budding legs and tails used for swimming speak of sea monsters thought to mere myth. Maybe you could become mythological too.
Shaking yourself back to your quest, your day-dream continues, and you are a ninja. As you wade covertly through the pond, the silt cloud that erases your steps follows you so you have to make quick action to capture the object of your mission. You can defy gravity, achieve movements with a grace that amazes invisible crowds you imagine on the shore line watching you, speechless in amazement of your amazing ninjaness. You make the moves seen in the Matrix a yawn. Then, your brief stint in over-confidence is met with the greatest adversary – a unexpectedly, overly-mossy log. Slick as ice as it happens. You lose your balance, and are brought low. With clothing drenched and moss clinging to your legs, you are feeling just slightly less ninja-like. The day-dream gone (but not forgot), and wet underwear for the rest of the day.