Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Green (10/22/09)
TITLE: The Natural Girl
By Patricia Protzman
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You have probably heard of the nursery rhyme, “What little boys and girls are made of,” written by an unknown author. As a girl, I did not fit into the “sugar and spice” description for little girls, but I did fit into the little boy’s description of “Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails.” A tomboy, I was a perfect fit with the neighborhood children, who were all boys. Climbing trees, building go-carts, riding my bike, collecting insects, and playing in the creek were some of my favorite outdoor activities.
The highest tree around happened to be in my front yard overlooking the creek. I climbed to the top and hung upside down with my legs draped over a large limb watching the frogs, turtles, minnows, and an occasional garter snake swim downstream. If my mom or dad had known about this dangerous behavior, my seat would have been extra warm for a week.
I was an inquisitive child and enjoyed exploring the flora and fauna God created. We had learned about praying mantises in fifth grade and while searching the field behind our house one day I came upon one of their cocoons. My teacher had explained to the class how to collect a specimen and the importance of keeping it in a warm environment. Breaking off the twig with the cocoon attached, I gently placed it in a mason jar, punched holes in the lid, and took the jar inside the house placing it in the corner of the dining room by a heat register where no one could knock it over. I neglected to tell my mom about placing it there.
One morning a few days later, I heard my mom scream and then she yelled for me to come downstairs. Jumping out of bed, I ran to the dining room. Mom was standing by the jar and it looked as though a thousand tiny praying mantises were crawling out of the holes of the jar lid onto the floor. I was excited and surprised and said, “Oh mom, they hatched!”
Mom was not happy and did not like insects or anything that crawled, especially in the house. Looking at me with her finger pointed she firmly said, “Get those things out of this house immediately, young lady! Put them in the garden.” I picked up all the “babies”, put them back in the jar, and deposited them in the garden. Later that day when I saw him, dad said he was glad to have the mantises because they helped to keep other insects from eating the vegetables, but I could not bring them into the house again because mom was afraid of insects.
One summer afternoon my neighbor Tommy and I found frog eggs in the creek. Tommy, about my age, said his mom would skin him alive if he brought them home. I ran and grabbed a pail from inside the house and scooped up the eggs. A large tin tub which mom sometimes used to collect rainwater sat behind the house, this is where I put the eggs adding more creek water. A few weeks later, they hatched with hundreds of polliwogs swimming around in the tub. Mom did not seem to mind and told me I needed to put them back in the creek so they would survive. Scooping them back into the smaller pail I gently placed them in the creek. Later that summer, it seemed there were more frogs than usual hopping around our yard and in the creek.
One summer afternoon while looking for something to do, I found a cicada, took it indoors, and tied some thread around its legs. Sitting in a chair, I let it fly around the living room. Mom happened to walk in and the cicada landed in her hair. It is enough to say I never brought insects into the house again, at least when mom was home.
My interest in the outdoors waned for a short time when I reached the age of sixteen and became more interested in boys. When it came time for me to choose my college major, no one was surprised when I selected biology, which later led to a medical career.
Many years have passed and I have a daughter. She likes to play with dolls, is afraid of spiders, and prefers kitty cats to frogs. But that’s okay because she is “sugar and spice and all things nice.”
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