Frogs, a Pond, a Photographer & a Poet Laureate
A Theory of Frogs and Toads: High Cliff State Park
It might have begun with a kiss.
It might have begun with a frog
and a princess and a dare. It began
with a river of ice, a slow erosion,
a trickle of water between
dolostone and shale. It began
with miles of this: compression
and loosening and moving.
It began in this place, a pool near
a quarry and a road, with popple
and maple leaves wrinkling
and unfolding, a whisper in spring.
It might have begun with a kiss,
a love song, a cautious chirr, a whistle
or peep, a croak. It began in water.
Sperm floated over eggs, a drift and swell.
It ended in a pond like this, hidden
under a mantle of algae, under
the shadow of ash trees and rocks
where tadpoles waggled and swirled,
eventually losing their tails to become
what they would. It ended with frogs,
green and leopard and chorus,
and toads, plain or fancy or warted,
their backs cloaked in duckweed.
It ended in this place, under the shawl
of dark water, a frenzy of toads, of frogs.
When it began, you might have seen them.
You might have heard their choir of stories,
a promise only nature can keep,
their bulbous eyes watching just above
the surface in this place where it began,
frogs and toads singing their love. It began
with water and a river of ice,
a slow erosion. It began with a kiss.
Poem courtesy of Karla Huston, Appleton, Wisconsin poet laureate
Ed Berthiaume, Appleton Post-Crescent Published 6:39 a.m. CT July 2, 2018 | Updated 6:48 a.m. CT July 2, 2018
SHERWOOD - The beauty and chaos of a hidden frog pond at High Cliff State Park — and the sheer wonders of nature — have been showcased in a video and photos from a USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin photographer and Wisconsin's poet laureate.
Bill Glasheen, a photographer and videographer with The Post-Crescent in Appleton, began taking photos and shooting video more than three years ago at the sprawling state park that's nestled along the northeast shore of Lake Winnebago. He would visit periodically, never quite knowing what he would do with the images.
Earlier this spring, Glasheen connected with Karla Huston, the Appleton poet who was named the state's poet laureate for 2017-18. He shared his photos with her and she was inspired to write an original poem, "A Theory of Frogs and Toads: High Cliff State Park." She narrates the poem in a video created by Glasheen that has been shared over the past week on USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin web sites and social media channels.
"It kind of started with the idea that, holy cow, this is here," Glasheen said of his frequent visits to the frog pond. "And it's sort of hidden behind a tree and down this little cliffed in area and you don't realize it's there. It was that semi-hidden nature that drew me, like you found a little treasure."
He started bringing his kids to the pond to hang out, taking photos and shooting video of the tadpoles, toads and frogs when the opportunity presented itself.
"It was just a destination," he said. "It was a place to go. ... It kind of became a private place, I guess, a sanctuary, if you will."
Glasheen reached out to Huston in hopes of connecting her poetry with his images.
"Right out of the gate she embraced it," he said. "She's talented, she's funny, she just absolutely went in whole heart, whole cloth and came away with something so much better than I even imagined.
"There's a reason she's the poet laureate. She's really, really good at what she does."