It was a great day at the zoo. In recognition of International Frog Day, my friend Shawn and I spent the day posing in front of our Frog Taxi poster, explaining why we shuttle frogs across the highway during their winter migration to their breeding ponds and back again. Shawn is the Frog Queen, pretty much, having started the taxi service to begin with (along with our friend Rob). She is even featured in the poster, in her headlamp tiara. But we also had the Frog Princess in the (firm, young) flesh. There is such a thing as a Frog Princess. Evidently. I guess if we absolutely must be obsessed with princesses and we absolutely must dress our little girls in pink tulle all the dang time, it’s good we have at least one Frog Princess.

So we were all set, royalty-wise. And we greeted many young parents with their eager spawn at their sides, and did a little recruiting for the frog-shuttle team, which now boasts some eighty volunteers. There was something a little rough-looking about one father, but he did pay attention, and declared “his boy” would be our best frog-nabber, because he can git ’em like nobody’s business. There was something about him that made me wonder what the boy does with the frogs he gits, but I kept that to myself. And he listened to our whole spiel, the breeding pond, the migration, the intervening Highway Of Death, and then he said:

“So, what good are frogs? What do they do for us?”

Awesome! Clearly, here was an opportunity to educate. Out of the goodness of my heart, I left that opportunity to Shawn, while I excused myself to wander off to a corner where my thoughts wouldn’t leak out. Primarily: What the hell good are you, dipwad?

I often think I would have been a good teacher, once we got past that paddlin’ I’d have to administer to get my students’ attention. So much is lost when there hasn’t been any foundation laid about our puny place in the universe, and people have grown all the way into adulthood with blinders of ignorance on, allowing them to imagine that their own needs are paramount, and can be fulfilled with a big TV and a big car to roar around in and a bag of chips and some foldin’ money; and the trail of detritus we leave behind has no consequence. I simply don’t know where to start to answer a question like his, although there are many answers. I do know when to start. With kids.

That’s one of the reasons I keep humiliating myself in the Birdathon van: to raise money for the Portland Audubon Society, with its great educational outreach. Yes, once again, after a year off to think about what I’ve done, I am going to sally forth and attempt to identify one single bird species before anyone else does, with all day to do it. We’re likely to spot over a hundred, so you’d think this would be easy, but it’s not. Eleven other people in that van are going to be confidently hollering out bird IDs from chips and squeaks and dots in the sky and tricks of the light, and I’m going to be pointing and saying ooo ooo ooo like a chimpanzee. It’s mortifying. My method is to get one in the brain pan all ready to fire and wait for it to flit by. I do get marginally better every year but I am to bird-watching what Kim Kardashian is to erudition.

Hear ye! Hear ye!

That’s not fair. I don’t actually know who Kim Kardashian is, which means it’s possible she’s a bird.

Anyway, I do have a donation page you can toss an eyeball at, and go ahead and pitch in if you want. I’d like to help Portland Audubon teach the children well, and preserve something to teach them about. Get the little dickenses outside noticing things besides themselves, before they grow up and think they’re all that and a bag of chips.

Would you like to help me raise funds for Portland Audubon? You can do it right here.