BY Tim Porteus. . .

WE ALL know that tadpoles turn into frogs. Searching for frog spawn and wee tadpoles is often a key childhood memory. But there are things we know about without really knowing about them.

This thought came to me as I searched for tadpoles and wee frogs in a pond last weekend with a group of parents and their children.

I love nature and believe it is a powerful part of all of us, which is why going to the woods or the beach, or just the general ‘countryside’, is an antidote for the stress of life.

But the truth is we don’t really have to go far to reach nature; it’s all around us.

The spider’s web on the hedge, the birds on the roof that wake us in the mornings, the self-seeded flowers which grow in places all around our towns, the trees which blossom then turn our streets green, the wee beasties in our garden soil, the list goes on and on.

Yet it is so easy to rush past all the magic which is just on our doorstep.

And as I watched the wee frogs swimming in the pond last week, I discovered just how much I don’t know and have missed.

That’s the joy of having young children, I think: they are a passport for you as a ‘grown-up’ to explore the world with a sense of fascination that we all once had, and can be rekindled.

You see, I’d never actually thought about how a tadpole changes into a frog.

In the day-to-day living of life I suppose it’s understandable; it is not an issue we will spend too much time thinking about.

But as I watched the wee frogs come up from the mud to the surface to breathe, then swim down again, I realised we were looking down on a simple but fascinating miracle of nature.

Then a wee frog literally jumped from a stone onto my son’s hand.

He could have squashed it or even been frightened by it, but instead he said “wow”.

The wee creature jumped from his hand onto mine, obviously looking for a way back to the safety of the water.

Carefully, and a bit reluctantly, he helped the wee ‘baby frog’ back into the water where it swam back down to the mud.

That’s when I realised I knew about the process without knowing about it.

There were some frogs which looked like late developers compared to their cousins, for they seemed to be more tadpole than frog, still swimming about with a tail between their developing frog legs.

The whole spectacle was, honestly, fascinating. I found myself being in awe at the process that we all know about but don’t really know about.

And so as summer has reached us, I am determined to make it a Safari of Discovery on our doorstep.

I will share this journey with you; the places, stories and folklore attached to them. And while I cannot claim to be an expert on nature, I know its spiritual importance and I think that is a good beginning.

My first port of call will be the wood of what my kids call the “serpent trees”.

Where is that? You’ll find out next week!

In the meantime, I will have to keep this week’s page short as it is my daughter Manja’s ninth birthday and I have mermaid tails to connect. . .