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There is a frog in Argentina that is no bigger than my thumb! The natives there call him “El Vaquero” which means: ”Cowboy”. Now, why would they call such a tiny green frog a cowboy? This is the story.
Most frogs that you and I know about mate secretly in the deeps of a warm, spring pond. You know: when your typical frog couple wants to create a family, the female dives into the water and is quickly followed by the male. When she reaches the muddy bottom she sits there and he lands on top of her back and proceeds to give her a big loving squeeze. She is so moved by this sign of “froggy” affection that she releases her eggs onto the mucky bottom and then quickly swims away. The male excited by the so special event quickly ejects a white cloud of life cells that falls down over the clutch of eggs -- and then he too swims away.
The eggs left there on the soft, warm bottom of the pond become fertilized by the cloud of life cells, and if they survive the dangers there soon hatch out into tiny tadpoles that go swimming all about eating everything they come upon. Then if they themselves live long enough without being eaten by fish or turtles or diving ducks, these tadpoles go through a wondrous metamorphosis, and little by little as they grow bigger and bigger eventually lose their gills and dragon tail and grow legs and big eyes and actually turn into frogs. They swim to the banks of the pond and hop out into the happy life God always intended for them just as spring is turning into summer. These, as I say, are the frogs you and I already know about.
The family life of the frog the natives of Argentina call El Vaquero is a different story. This tiny frog with his sweetheart inspired by God’s wisdom do not mate hidden under the water of some nearby pond but do their new life creating right there in the dewy grass of the meadow in the open and in broad daylight. Right there with all the birds watching, the male climbs up on top of her back and does give her a romantic squeeze – enough to move her to release her bunch of eggs into the moist grass. She then hops away. He squirts his life cells all over the small cluster of glistening eggs – but does not hop away.
He does not abandon them, but moved by a deep paternal instinct remains there to protect them from being eaten by birds or grasshoppers. The papa frog actually stands guard and slowly hops around them in a protective circle – just the way the cowboy rides herd at night to guard cattle. This brave caring little frog actually whistles tunes as he keeps watch just like a cowboy does – and so it is with good reason that he is honored with the name “El Vaquero” – the cowboy frog.
But my story gets even better. When the cowboy papa frog sees the beginnings of life quickening within each of the pearl like eggs, he gently picks each one up with his tongue and swallows it! – sends it not into his stomach but into his large vocal sack. Yes, he actually takes each glistening, vibrant egg and begins to incubate it as one of a clutch within the warm, moist, safe haven of his vocal sack. There they all remain, and when soon they hatch from their spherical, silken egg, they go through all the wondrous stages of transformation of becoming true little frogs still within that intimate cave of their father’s body squiggling and poking as they grow.
And then on a lovely spring morning when the air is full of the scent of flowers and the soft buzzing of insects, the El Vaquero jumps up onto a rock and opening his mouth wide lets his babies be born to real life – each one hopping out off of his outstretched tongue into the day, onto the grass and into his or her destined life. This wonderful little frog who is no bigger than my thumb fathers his own offspring! What a guy is this El Vaquero! What a surprising Papa!
Well, I am your storyteller, and I want to be El Vaquero for you. Watch! I am going to open my mouth wide and living stories are going to jump right out of me into the meadow of your mind/heart/soul. I am a storyteller. Ready or not -- here come my stories now! -- full of new life for you! I am your storyteller. I am your El Vaquero!
Paul Clement Czaja