"Is that what I think it is?"
I was halfway up the steps already, but Sal's voice spun me around and brought me back down again. We shuffled awkwardly into the tiny space under the stairs up to her flat and together peered incredulously at what had caught her attention.
An unappealing bobbly jelly lump that sat somewhat sulkily in the old sandpit. It was more of a glorified puddle than a pond, to be honest, half full of rainwater. Why, of all places, had the frog(s) chosen a cramped stairwell on a street in Bristol?
"I knew I should've moved that thing when I had the chance," my poor friend muttered, frowning slightly. "Now what'm I s'posed to do?" She looked at me as if I should know. So maybe I am a bit of a wildlife nerd, but would anyone know what to do after discovering that an animal had entrusted its growing progeny to your old plastic piece of junk?
And as desperately as I wanted to see these things hatch, become little commas that swim, and then grow into gurt big frogs, as Sal pointed out, the sandpit was scarcely the best home for them. It was unfair to foist the problem onto the new tenants coming to take over what will always be Sal's Flat in my head, and besides, the sandpit was small, coming apart, and there was no garden.
Do you ever have one of those moments where your eyes meet someone else's, and you're both thinking exactly the same thing? I love that woman. We both said 'Tea' at pretty much the same time.
So up we went, into Sal's tiny kitchen with her wee stove and trusty kettle, made tea, and began to Think.
We didn't come up with much. But as they were there, and depending on how cold it was would probably be hatching into tadpoles in the next week or so, it was a decision that had to be made soon.
I munched thoughtfully on a digestive biscuit. We needed a home for them, but you can't exactly advertise that in a column in the metro. We chuckled over what we might put.
A nurturing, loving home for dozens of little squiggles that shall soon be of the frog persuasion.
Must be wet. Homes with carnivorous pond life will not be considered for our little darlings.
Ok, so facetiousness aside, it was true. We actually needed someone willing to adopt our frogspawn and chuck it in their pond. After a couple of hours where we chatted about anything and everything but still had no answer to our dilemma, Sal grinned at me.
"We should totally pray about it."
So we did. We weren't entirely serious, at the time. Note to self: don't muck around with prayer. Because it led to the most bizarre conversation with a woman in the cheese section at Sainsbury's not two days later.
She looked pretty harried - a grandma with two kids who were evidently on a sugar high and in the perfect mood to argue with each other. They began fighting over how frogs begin in-flipping-front of me. I stifled a grin, noting 'what a coincidence' in my head, and continued about the business of procuring some fresh parmesan.
After some increasingly wild theories about how frogs were made from green jelly and made into frog shapes afterwards (yup, the kid actually said that), with her brother hotly arguing that don't-be-silly, they're newts that had their tails chopped off, their grandmother brought up frogspawn.
"Grandad and I usually get some frogspawn in our pond this time of year, or you'd be able to come to ours with mum and see them grow up," she said.
"What about this year, Grandma?" one of them piped up, (still probably half convinced that the frogspawn theory was a grown up LIE. I guess the newt theory is pretty plausible if you're five).
"We haven't got any this year, but there we are. It's not as if you can just go around advertising for frogspawn!" She winked at me.
I froze. There. My own words thrown back at me.
Coincidences happen, I'll grant you. Kids arguing - well, that's a given. Kids arguing about animals, I'll take that. Frogs, a tad more specific.
Frogspawn deficits, however, don't come along every flippin' day.
The woman behind the counter pressed my parmesan into my hands, and by the time I'd thanked her and consulted my list for the next thing for my basket, they were half way up the aisle.
But you can't really pass up something like that, so I just went up and asked if she really did want some frogspawn. That I'd got a friend who was moving, had some that didn't really have a home, and we needed to find a pond pretty sharpish or it would be going in one of the parks. She brightened. I'm so glad she didn't think I was a weirdo or anything (because, um, I would).
And the same day, the frogspawn were on the way to their new (wet) home. Sal was pretty smug ("I told you it would work!" was the first thing she said on the phone) Here's hoping it was a good one - I'm sure it has been. This was in early march, so they should be mini-frogs grown bigger by now.
It's so easy to feel like you need to have something important to pray. But God's just as happy answering small prayers as big ones; the things we feel might be insignificant really aren't, to Him!
But most importantly, I was really humbled by it. God honoured our prayer even though we weren't quite serious. And in the hardest-to-miss kind of way. Never underestimate the power of prayer.