Katie, 18 mos., and Snowball in side yard, summer 1967.
When we lived in Bismarck, we moved to a log cabin on two acres in the Missouri River bottoms about six months after Katie was born. Our place was across the street from the arena for the Bismarck Horse Club until they moved the arena deep into the woods about the time Tom was born a couple of years later.
Bismarck is pretty dry, but in the spring, the ruts in the old arena would fill up with snow melt. Frogs would lay their eggs in these deep puddles, and after observing all this activity, Peggy and Sally would go across the street with tea strainers and harvest a bunch of frog eggs. They'd put them in big water-filled mayonnaise and pickle jars that we'd get from the Big Boy/KFC (called by nearly all the toddlers in our acquaintance "fucky fied chick'n") outlet at the end of the main street.
Pretty soon, the eggs would hatch, and we'd have big jars full of wee tadpoles at the end of the veranda on the side by the sandbox, swings, and apple orchard. And they'd grow....and grow. Pretty soon, you could HEAR the tadpoles splashing around from quite a distance. Slop! Splish! Splash!! And then it'd be time to carry the jars across the street and let the tadpoles go back into the puddles.
That was about the time of year, too, when the wild coyotes in the Missouri river bottom would call to those in the Dakota Zoo (just beyond the arena) at night after we were all in bed. And shortly after that, the wrens would arrive in our side yard, announcing that the wild asparagus was up in the woods.
The year before Tom was born, I was teaching junior high life science and earth science at the local Catholic school, and some of the kids used to come out to visit us on Saturdays. I'd strap Katie into a backpack, and then Peggy, Sally, Katie, and the visiting kids and I would head out into the woods adjoining our property for a nature walk. The students were enthralled to see the wild asparagus ("Is that the same as the kind we eat??") and the squirrel nests high in the trees. ("Squirrels live in NESTS??").
I remember walking into the science classroom one morning and discovering that somebody had thrown clods of dirt into the aquarium. I've never been one to mince words, so I said, "Would the jackass who did this please clean it up? These fish never hurt you. Why kill them by choking off their oxygen?". And that's all I said. The next day, the aquarium water was sparkling clean again, and the fish were swimming around as usual. The kids had worked long and hard after school to move the fish into the reserve clean water, then pour out the muddy water, rinse off the gravel, and put everything back to rights.