Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Making Friends

I met my first new friend in this town last week when we came to clean the empty apartment before moving in.

The apartment's only bedroom has a west-facing double window looking out to a deep window well. The result is what I call a "terrarium" (after the gardens-in-jars that we used to make as kids), 6 1/2 feet deep, 4 1/2 feet long, and about 2 feet wide. The block walls are painted a faded purple and blue. The mulched floor is layered with damp old leaves. Overhead, a heavy grate keeps the landlord's toddler from falling in when she's digging in the flower garden. There are no plants in the terrarium...yet. I have to locate some that love deep shade and can tolerate cold weather.

As I fiddled with the screen to remove it for cleaning, there was her green face, staring back at me with bright red-and-black eyes. I'll call her Salta Ranita (Jump Frog, after a children's book).

After we moved in, I eagerly introduced her to our first guests. Often when I looked for her she was half-hidden under the leaves.

For several days, I didn't see Salta at all. I started to wonder: Could she have fallen through the grate recently? Could she be starving for lack of bugs? Should I set her free? Or has she climbed up the walls with her suction feet?

My paucity of frog knowledge made me uneasy.

The other night as I got ready for bed, a distinct rustling sound from outside the bedroom window caught my ear. Sure enough, there she was. Salta, Ranita!

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