There’s magic in a frog pond. Two ponds near our Paradise cottage along the shore of Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay are mere puddles compared to the big lake.
But they are a world unto themselves that captivate our grandchildren.
One pond is on the beach near my siblings’ cottages. It’s the outlet of a ditch between Superior Drive and adjacent woody swamps. It leaks icy cold, tannin-stained root beer colored water into the bay. It’s been that way since my childhood more than 60 years ago when as a kid, my siblings and I spent hours catching frogs there.
It’s a favorite of my eldest granddaughter, Kayleigh, who has heard grandpa’s tales of frog-hunting forays there. Kayleigh’s mom also chased frogs in the pond as a child. One recent summer, Kayleigh headed down the beach to the pond when visiting us, declaring “it’s her turn” to catch frogs in it.
It took practice, patience and persistence, but eventually she caught a frog. It’s debatable whether the frog or Kayleigh was more surprised.
Last summer, our grandson Grayson, then five, netted frogs in a neighbor’s pond. It was created by an overflow from an artesian well, which for years has provided drinking water for many along this gravel road north of Paradise.
Grayson spent hours stalking the edges of the eight by 16-foot man-made pond determined to catch the wary frogs.
Nearly choked with last year’s leaves, he raked the pond clean to have a better view of the frogs. Our neighbor was pleased with the maintenance.
Grayson came equipped with a net to which he added a stick for a longer handle. Every time he caught a frog, he’d run to anyone in sight or on the beach to show them his catch. Then he’d run back and release the frog into the pond. It’s fair to say some of the same frogs were caught repeatedly.
Later in the summer, he and his cousins expanded their search to the aforementioned ditch across the road thick with frogs. Even though the greatest of the Great Lakes was a couple hundred feet away, the pond and the ditch and their frogs captivated him.
Grayson enjoys Lake Superior, Whitefish Bay, the beach and fishing. Yet last summer, he was proud to be “frog hunter.”
In a troubled world, kids find joy in ways kids always have – riveted to catching memories in the little ponds of life.
Cloverland member Steve Begnoche is a retired newspaper editor who shares his love of northern Michigan through his writing and American Coot Photography enterprise. He and his wife Brenda have three children and five grandchildren who also enjoy their Paradise cottage down the beach from where his parents brought his family for vacations.