Attempting to save tadpoles on Memorial Day

Arlo and I spent a lot of time at Riverside Park today; running around the playground, picking up glass along the banks of the Huron river, and watching super-enthusiastic baby geese practice their diving. [We also got to see what appeared to be an epic battle between a great blue heron and a family of geese.] It was pretty idyllic. Over the four hours we spent hanging around the park, we saw two groups of kayakers pass by, a pack of college students float along on rafts, a father and son actually swimming, about a dozen people fishing, and probably about 100 kids dropping by to check out the recently opened Liz Dahl MacGregor Playground. I’ve been spending time in Riverside Park for over a quarter century now, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so vibrant. Everywhere you looked, there were couples on blankets, people walking dogs, and families chasing kids. And, before anyone suggests that what I saw was just the most recent manifestation of gentrification, I should add that it was probably also the most diverse group I’ve ever seen sharing the park at the same time. And everyone appeared to be having a great time together.

OK, with all of that said, there was one thing that wasn’t exactly perfect. When walking around the park, Arlo and I stumbled across a big puddle that was absolutely teeming with tadpoles, which appeared to us to be about a week old, meaning that they wouldn’t be losing their tails and becoming frogs for another six weeks or so. So, Arlo and I, as we sat there, watching them, began to discuss what might happen to them if this tiny pool of water in the middle of the park should dry up before they’d completed their metamorphosis. And, by the end of that conversation, we’d decided to walk home, get a jar, and come back to collect some of them.

[You can see video of the tadpoles here.]

I know, in the whole scheme of things, it may not be that impactful, as few tadpoles make it to frogdom anyway, and, of those that do, most are probably eaten before they even have an opportunity to mate. But, as I was just telling my friend Jean, I suspect that most tadpoles, if you’d ask them, would rather have a chance to meet their ends as frogs in the river than die as froglets in a dried-out puddle. So, with that in mind, we took home a few dozen, thinking that, one day, if we’re lucky, we might be able to bring a few fully-realized frogs back to the banks of the Huron River to eat bugs, make love, and enjoy life.

Even if we don’t get any that make it all the way to frogdom, I’m thinking that it’ll at least give Arlo and I an opportunity to talk about the place frogs hold in our ecosystem, the stages that tadpoles have to go through on their journey to becoming frogs, and the threats they face at each stage, not just from fish and birds, but from the amphibian fungus (“the most deadly pathogen known to science”) that has been decimating their global populations for these past several decades. I don’t know that Arlo and I will keep it up, but we started an audio diary about our tadpoles, and we’re talking about drawing pictures of them tomorrow evening after school. [Hopefully they don’t all die tonight.]

So, why am I mentioning this? Well, I thought that maybe some of you, especially if you’ve got inquisitive little kids at home, might want to consider doing the same thing… I can’t think of a cheaper, more compelling way to engage with kids on the environment.

One more thing… I was going to repost something that I’d written about Memorial Day on this site 16 year ago, all about how I didn’t feel terribly patriotic under the Bush administration. It wasn’t a great post by any means, but I thought that it would give me an opportunity to think through why it is that I’ve felt so much more patriotic since the dawning of the Trump era. [“In spite of” Trump, not “due to” Trump.] But then it occurred to me that I’d rather not think about Donald Trump after such a great day, and that I could just write about frogs instead.

If it’s not clear from the above, I love frogs. In fact, if I make it to retirement age, I’m thinking that a good deal of my time will be spend building and tending to a frog pond in my backyard.

Oh, and this is our new, awesome park… Thank you again for everyone who had a hand in making it happen. [Does anyone still remember the broken and sad playground equipment that used to be near the entrance to the park a few decades ago?]

[If you do decide to take some tadpoles home, you can found out how to care for them here.]

This entry was posted in Environment, Mark's Life, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. ElsieGal
    Posted May 27, 2019 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Several years ago a really big puddle showed up in the dormant field* adjacent to our property and it was teeming with tadpoles. Afraid it would dry up and rob them of a good nursery, we dragged 250 feet of hose out there and kept it a puddle. We also fed them chopped cooked greens, lettuce mostly, because I read somewhere they could eat that in early development. I don’t know how many frogs we got as a result since it wasn’t something we could watch over closely (we were stealth tadpole savers). But every year when I hear the first spring peepers, I like to think they are descendants of our tadpoles. So kudos to you and Arlo for your tadpole adventure and know that you have indeed made a difference.

    *Dormant field owned by a developer who has since converted it (50 acres total) into a 12-lot luxury home site. Very nicely done, all in all, and still home to lots of wildlife and amazing fireflies, so we are grateful neighbors.

  2. John Galt
    Posted May 28, 2019 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    How dare you interfere with God’s plan for those creatures. On judgment day you will be punished alongside the doctor who provided an abortion for the rape victim.

  3. Dogmatic Dolt
    Posted May 28, 2019 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Aloha MM, The last couple of weeks I have been walking around the city (trying to do my 10000 steps a day to avoid another heart attack). It is a great way to see people. There are always folks on the side walks going about their daily lives. It feels good to live in a city where people actually engage with each other as we walk past each other. The other thing that I’ve noticed this year is the number of young men and women who hold doors open for me. It happens almost every day. It is embarrassing some times, because I’ll still be 10 or more steps away from the door, and they will be standing there holding the door waiting for me.
    My cousin visited the other day from Indiana. He is older, and like me a daily walker. I think he looks older too. He says no one ever holds doors open for him. So a living example proving that Michiganders are more civilized than Hoosiers.
    I think it is because here in Ypsi we are much more progressive and understand how we are all in this together.

    Good luck with the tadpoles. I’ve always loved Riverside and Recreation Parks. Going to hit the pool again today.

  4. John Brown
    Posted May 28, 2019 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    I hope everyone had a thoughtful Memorial Day. Mrs Brown and I just returned from a tactical training camp in Frogeye, MI. No tree frogs yet. Just Leopards and occasional Bull out in the Marsh. When the tree frogs get going you cant hear yourself think.

  5. Posted May 28, 2019 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    This is the type of MarkMaynard.Com content that keeps me coming back.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted May 28, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    These posts are good because all the crazies who populate the Trump posts ignore them.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted May 29, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Actually, Anonymous, I’m expecting EOS to jump in any minute and equate the rescue of tadpoles with rescuing fetuses by outlawing abortions. Just in case, I have my replies at the ready.

  8. Posted May 31, 2019 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    From Forbes

    Six Reasons To Visit Ann Arbor’s Sister City Of Ypsilanti

    Affectionately known as “Ypsi” by locals, Michigan’s Ypsilanti is a bohemian town with a rich history and an inviting community vibe. Tucked between Ann Arbor and Detroit, this home of Eastern Michigan University is worth exploring on a weekend getaway. People here take pride in the role of the city in advancing the automotive and aviation industries. Locally driven businesses line the streets of the historic Downtown and Depot Town areas. Restaurants and breweries reflect the diversity and innovation of those who call this hidden gem home.

    The great outdoors are just within minutes from the town center. More than 23,000 acres of public park and recreation areas can be found in Washtenaw County, ideal for picnicking, hiking, mountain biking and golfing. Canoeing, kayaking or fishing are available on the Huron River that winds through Ypsilanti. A walk along the river through serene urban parks brings you to shopping, dining and entertainment in town. In the summer, classic cars fill the streets of downtown on Cruise Nights. If you are looking for funky cool collectables, there are plenty of interesting stores to get your fix.

    Here are six good reasons to consider Ypsilanti on your next Ann Arbor vacation.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By The tadpoles are now frogs on June 10, 2019 at 9:31 am

    […] two weeks ago, as you may recall, Arlo and I collected a bunch of tadpoles from a vernal pool in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park. Well, things seemed to be going pretty well […]

  2. […] the past few weeks, I’ve posted here about both tadpoles and frogs that my son and I had found in Riverside Park. Well, as a result of these posts, I’ve […]

  3. By Mark’s Covid Diary… May 25, 2020 on May 25, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    […] year on Memorial Day, my son and I discovered a giant vernal pool teaming with tadpoles at Riverside Park, so we thought we’d go back today in hopes of finding more. While we didn’t find any […]

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