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The Pond, Ages 41 – 59

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

Living out here in the country I have access to a lot of wildlife. Our pond is a great place to find all kinds of creatures. Though they are a lot of work, I recommend a pond for anyone living in the country. When no one is around, and all is quiet, they are a great place for peaceful contemplation, and when kids are around, they are a lot of fun.

One of my favorite things to do when my kids were younger was to take them and their friends out to the pond at night and go bullfrog "hunting." The pond isn't too large, 30 feet by 15 feet, but it is teaming with tons of plants and wildlife including fish, crawdads (crayfish in the South), bullfrogs, Lilly pads, tule leaves, and other flora and fauna. A huge willow tree is next to the pond and the branches hang over about half of it.

Catching a bullfrog is easiest in the dark of night. All you need is a good size fishing net to scoop in the water, and a bright flashlight to find the frogs. The fishing net in one hand, and flashlight in the other, we crept up to the pond's edge. The kids would crouch down behind me, sometimes grabbing on to my shirt for security. We'd search for glowing eyes next to the bank with the flashlight. Once we landed on a pair of glowing eyes, the light blinded them and seemed to mesmerize them. If we stayed quiet, the frogs stared at the light while we crept up on them.

As soon as we got close enough to net the frog, we thrust the net into the water and scooped up the frog. Though the frogs try to escape, they go right into the net.


As I quickly lifted the net, I made sure to shine the light on the frog, so the kids could see how huge it looked in the net, its arms and legs sticking straight out, trying to figure out what was happening. The kids were in absolute awe to see how big the frogs looked. Often, before we let the frogs go, we put them in a large bucket of water, so the kids could see them in the morning. A great adventure for the kids.

Another great pond adventure was catching crawdads.

I never tried to catch the fish in the pond, but I have had great fun over the years watching my kids, nieces, nephews, and friend's catch crawdads. To catch a crawdad, we tied a piece of string on a stick with a piece of lunch meat to it. The crawdads especially love salami. I taught the kids to put the string in the water and let the bait sit on the bottom. Soon they would see the string move and I instructed them to pull the string out of the water slowly. They would screech with delight when they saw the hungry crawdads hanging onto the lunchmeat just long enough to pull them over to their bucket. It was always the same kids tried it for the first time and I never tired of watching them.

When the kids catch enough, they take the bucket to show the crawdads to their parents. It is always fun watching the parents look in the bucket with curiosity too. "Oh wow." they'll say as they inspect the creatures close up. That, of course, makes the kids proud.

~ Andrew Laufer












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