I love nature.
But I don’t think I understand ecological friendly interaction with the environment.
I’m going to put this out there right now: I don’t believe global warming exists. If you’re going to upset with me for this that’s ok, you’re entitled to your opinion but I’m going to keep mine.
I don’t think humans should go around outrageously killing animals or tearing apart forests just for fun, but both animals and trees fall in the category of “natural resources” in my mind.
Which means I’m going to eat meat, and I’m going to write in my journal and blow my nose with a Kleenex.
Now that I’ve explained my political standing on being “green” (thank you Al Gore for making the world go partially crazy) I can tell you my story.
When I first think of community service I think of working with people. I think of a soup kitchen and conversation. I think of love and human interaction.
I don’t think of weeds. Or in this case, cattails. Hundreds of them.
If too many of one plant grow it is called a mono______ (some Latin ending that means that the plant is dominating more than 50% of the plant culture in the area and it has to be removed.)
My community service group was selected to remove cattails from ponds in the wetlands of the U District. Thankfully, these ponds were dried up and we did not have to wade in mud.
The sun decided to show its face again and everyone in my group soon became a sweaty mess. Most of us weren’t exactly suitably dressed since we weren’t told what our project was until we arrived at the work site. I was in shorts and a t-shirt and escaped the fate of those who wore jeans.
Throughout the morning until noon we took turns digging the shovels into the ground and pulling out the cattails and their roots, then carrying them and placing them in a pile so they would be out of the way.
We all took a break to eat lunch around 12 and enjoyed our sack lunches while sharing conversation. I had been wearing sunglasses and pushed them onto the top of my head so that I would be able to talk to people without them wondering who I was looking at. Lunch was soon over and we began to migrate toward the work area.
By this time most of the group had moved further into the wetlands and as I was following them to the new location. I looked to my left and saw two girls standing in the first pond we had cleared. They were taking turns inspecting something in one of the girl’s hands and then placed it on the ground.
“What did you find?” I asked.
“A little frog,” they replied.
I’m not shy of amphibians and I walked over to see what kind of frog they had found.
The lady who was in charge of the people we worked for came over and told us what kind of frog it was, then proceeded to launch into the explanation of how there weren’t enough frogs in the area. Therefore, they implemented some and hoped they would eventually reproduce. The kind of frog the girls had found was apparently rather rare.
I recognized the frog—I had seen one in Lynden, Washington and had taken a picture of it.
I leaned over to take a closer look at it. My sunglass, which I had forgotten were resting on my head, fell off and tumbled to the ground.
They crushed the frog.
My sunglasses fell just at the right place and time to crush the frog as it was hopping across the (now cattail free) pond area.
When I picked my sunglasses up I thought perhaps they had landed beside the frog but I noticed that its legs were rather splayed at an awkward angle and it wasn’t hopping anymore.
One of the girls must have gasped because somehow the lady ended up next to the three of us and leaned over to see the frog lying on the ground, unmoving. She picked it up in her hand and held it steadily. “Oh no, oh dear. Poor thing…” and on she went.
I felt terrible. I tried to explain I didn’t mean for it to happen, I really didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean to kill it! It was an accident! (How else are you supposed to explain your sunglasses falling off your head?)
Then she said, “I can still feel it’s heartbeat, but it’s not breathing. I don’t think it’s going to make it. Maybe it’s just stunned, but I highly doubt it.”
I wasn’t sure how to react. I felt terrible, I was still partially pleading but I didn’t know how to truly react. My first thought was, there are more aren’t there?? This can't possibly be the last one? And then again, “I’m so sorry.”
All of us stood there. One of the girls was trying not to laugh. I was between laughing or crying but I either way I felt uncomfortable.
The lady said, “This is what we call ‘not good human intervention’,” as if she was trying to make a joke, but I think she was serious.
We left the first pond area and walked to meet with the rest of our group, and I told them how I killed a frog with my sunglasses. It immediately became a huge joke and the members of my group teased me the rest of the day. I didn’t mind the banter, but I think the lady was giving us all the stink-eye the entire time.
“Make sure you watch out where you dig with that shovel, you might chop up a frog,” said Taylor.
“I’ll do this for you. We don’t want you killing anything else,” Alex laughed.
The man who worked in partnership with the environmental lady came up to me and asked, “So, did the frog croak?” This made me loosen up a bit and not feel as bad. At least he didn’t seem too angry with me if he was making a joke out of it. One of the girls also assured me she had seen more of the same type of frog so I hadn’t killed the only frog living there.
The most ironic joke came when one of the girls announced, “I’m listening to Down in New Orleans.”
I said, “Oh! That’s from Princess and the Frog, right?!”
Everyone just stopped and started laughing because I said the word frog. No one could say “frog” and not laugh.
After a few more hours of continuous laughter and jokes, the time came for us to clean up the final cattail pieces and end our work session.
While we were cleaning the lady announced, “Make sure you don’t forget your sunglasses, your deadly sunglasses.”
As if I didn’t feel bad enough.
On the bus ride back to school I checked my phone and answered various texts. While I had been digging up cattails my Mom had sent me a picture of a lamp she was considering buying for me.
The base of it was a frog.