Days of Awe
For those of us who are Jewish, this is the time of year for reflection. A time to think about who we may have wronged or hurt intentionally or inadvertently. We ponder our sins of commission — what we did but shouldn’t have — and our sins of omission — what we did not do, but should have.
We ask forgiveness. We forgive.
We think about how we can be better human beings, how we can put into action the rabbinical teaching and inherently Jewish concept of tikkun olam — “repairing the world.”
We try to seek out good. We try to be good.
Where is the good?
This year, it’s especially hard to believe in goodness. Not because there aren’t good people doing good things. But because, with the exception of a few websites devoted to feel-good stories, like the Good News Network, the Huffington Post Good News page or Daily Good, it’s a challenge to see it.
I feel inundated with tales of hatred and horribleness. Or as Michelle Obama said in a recent speech, “We are drowning in it.”
It’s everywhere. I would have to shut myself off of every online, offline, mass media, mail, and personal connection to avoid it. I won’t do that. Instead, I’m going to act, in my own way, to do what I can to help combat the hate.
But on Life with Dogs and Cats, there is no politics. Instead, it is a little corner of internet that highlights good, offers some advice and some laughs, and keeps us in touch with our essential humanity through stories and photos of our non-human friends.
Finding goodness in unusual places
We have a pool in our backyard, and every year we rescue frogs who hop into the water and can’t climb out. They wind up in our skimmer baskets, exposed to the pool chemicals that are harsh and unhealthy for them. If they’re lucky, we find them before they… um… croak. Then we scoop them out and set them free in the stream behind our house.
A few years ago, I discovered a skimmer cover called a Critter Skimmer; it has a built-in ramp specifically designed to solve this problem. A frog winds up in the skimmer, grabs onto the ramp, and hops his or her way out to freedom. Since we installed these covers, the number of frogs found in our pool had decreased.
However, this year was particularly bad since we had so little rain and the streams had nearly dried up. Our pool must have seemed like an appealing option. We found so many green frogs and leopard frogs that Brian, Aaron and I began checking the skimmers every day. We kept a tiny cage in the garage just for the purpose of transporting them to a more amenable environment.
I’m the kind of person who would rather catch a bug and release it outside than kill it. I will pick worms up off of flooded sidewalks and put them in safe places so they don’t drown or wind up fried when the sun comes out. I have brought more animals to wildlife rehab places than I can count.
I say all that a little sheepishly. Yes, it takes time. Yes, I go out of my way. Yes, I give a donation every time I bring a creature to rehab.
All this time, I felt like I cared just a little too much. I know it’s probably part of my heritage, from my father’s mother who helped feed the hungry and homeless who stopped by their farm, to my mother’s mom who rescued a kitten when she herself didn’t have enough to eat.
I almost felt embarrassed telling people I saved all living creatures, from from flies to frogs — even the moths that flew into the house on summer evenings whose fate would have been to become kitty playthings. I didn’t think many people outside of my family felt similarly. Not that feeling foolish would stop me from my rescues; I just might not share my stories with everyone.
I am not alone
As I was doing the research for this post, making sure I had the correct name of the Critter Skimmer, I found another product designed to help frogs and other creatures escape from pools, called a Frog Log.
I immediately sent an email and link to Brian, so we can try it out next summer. Of course he was all for it.
There are two products out there now, the sole purpose of which is to prevent creatures from getting harmed by our human activities.
What that means to me is that not only did a few someones see the need, feel that it was important to solve and then figure out ways to address it — but there must be others out there who have a similar view, enough that there’s a market for such products.
In other words, there are other people out there who care enough to take time, go out of their way, and spend money to care for another life just because it’s another life.
And that’s good. That’s Very Good.
I just have to filter out the unhealthy pool of nastiness that I find myself swimming in, grab onto the small islands of hope and kindness, and climb out to realize that there is more good than bad out there.
And now for some frog (and cat) photos
Sometimes the green frogs or leopard frogs we caught were brought into our house while we suited up to go tramping through the woods to the stream.
Every once in a while, one or another of our cats stopped by to check out these strange creatures.
While the cats were quite curious, I am not able to read frog emotions accurately, and since I can’t tell if they felt fear, I never let the visits go on for very long.
Below are some photos and a short video of one of the encounters between Calvin and a couple of green frogs.
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- Ketsishe Rose: A Mother’s Day Story
- Lucky Penny: A Clear the Shelters Adoption Story
- Kind-hearted Women
- Keeping Wildlife Safe From Your Dogs
- Free Bird
- Yes, There Are Flying Squirrels in New Jersey
- Dogs vs. Groundhog
- Found and Lost