Sunday, June 17, 2007

Frog Nights in Houston

I walked my baby to sleep this evening. She climbed in the stroller when I rolled it out. She knew what kind of ride it would be as she hoisted herself in. It was intrepid of her to venture out with her father as the sun set. I had dressed her in a white long-sleeved shirt and white pants. I smeared the remaining little strips of exposed wrist and ankle with insect repellent. Storms have swept through the city over the past two days leaving big puddles everywhere. This gulley, bayou, and sewer drained swamp-turned-city is saturated. It is one of those nights when you think about the precariousness of our city, how we live on a gigantic concrete platform moored by thousands of oak trees over a heaving lake of clay. Usually when I pass people in the street after dark, they remain silent but this evening everyone said hello, maybe to tacitly acknowledge the beauty of a near flood or else to stave off fear with human voice.

At first, my baby babbled to herself. Then she began to strain against the belts by arching her back. She whined rhythmically, a plaintive kind of chant. I thought I would have to let her out so she could push the stroller herself or toddle across the nearest concrete lot. But all of sudden she was asleep and I realized she had been struggling against her circadian rhythms, trying to reset her own clock with a last burst of energy. The belts held her down, but it was the discipline of her own cells that did her in. I turned around and headed back home.

And then the frogs came out.

I saw dozens. Most leaped into the groundcover and under tree roots as we approached. Some frogs did not startle though. I bent over and looked at them closely as the baby slept.

A runner passed us from behind as I ambled along. I must have looked funny trying to stir up the frogs. He may not have noticed the frogs at all. He was probably too involved in his exercise to think about why I was running the tip of my boot along the puddles. I imagine he focused on his breaths, between which he rushed out a “hello” as he rushed by. I checked my baby and I felt thankful that I had her there, her weight in the stroller, her body heavy in sleep, slowing me down to frog-watching pace. I was glad to be a father fettered by my baby’s dependency.

Today was my first father’s day with my baby. Last year, she was in Salt Lake City with her mother helping Grandma Helen and Grandpa Lou. So I feel like I have a right to share my grandiose thoughts about the state of the world. On my walk, I thought about how vulnerable frogs are to toxins and that it must be a good sign that after all that has been perpetrated on the air, the water, and the land, these frogs have reclaimed one night. I thought about the hopefulness of finding frogs in Houston. I felt that hope in my heart, I felt it radiating in the world.

1 comment:

Fiddler said...

Happy Father's Day :)