Tiny pollywogs and tadpoles cluster like black flies in the shallow waters, making dimple upon dimple in the sand in designs that look like the moon’s surface when viewed through a telescope. I love seeing the baby frogs wiggle around when I startle them as I pass by. It doesn’t look like they’ve started to grow legs yet, and I wonder if they will get the chance.
I glance at the sky and enjoy the partly cloudy shade. To the east are a few thunderheads building, but not enough really to herald the start of monsoon weather. But it is the giant thunderstorms that in recent years have flushed the little water creatures clean out of their birthplaces to points downstream or perhaps to oblivion.
I wonder what happens to all those babies after a big storm. Surely some survive, because I see and hear them throughout the summer. But the hundreds of them that bask in the shallow water of the creek, and other creeks across our desert, must not all survive the destructive forces of flash floods.
Not completely unlike a tadpole in a torrent, I and some friends and family took a spur-of-the-moment trip down Cataract Canyon last week and enjoyed some post-peak high water. I don’t take the time often enough to enjoy the tourist attractions for which the Moab area is famous. With a son who will graduate high school in a year, and friends visiting from France and Arizona, we grabbed the chance to see the heart of Canyonlands by boat, and then again by airplane on our return trip. Out little group was treated to a perfect expedition through the rapids, guided by Tag-a-Long’s Bob Jones and crew. For some it was a Bucket List trip. When I’m that far in the hinterlands, I often wonder when or if I will ever get back there again. That trip was just the second time I had floated Cataract, and since I am not a particularly avid water person, it may be the last time. That’s in no way meant to sound fatalistic, it’s just that there are so many other canyons and stretches of river that I would like to see in our corner of the world. It’s just a matter of making time for those adventures.
Like so many Moab residents, I don’t frequent our tourist areas unless I have guests visiting me. “I’ve been there and done that,” and “It’s so much more crowded than it used to be,” are common reasons for keeping me from being a tourist in my own backyard. But the biggest reason is that I, like the little tadpoles, am more likely to wiggle around in my own little environment until a wave — of visiting friends perhaps — sweeps me into a stronger current and out into parts of the world I don’t usually visit.