One morning at `Tadpole Central'

Rain peppered the pavement April 9 as a gentle Gorge shower rolled up the river, bringing with it a thin fog which scattered in and out of the trees.

Raincoats of every color -- pink, yellow, blue and even ladybug -- dotted the playground at the Bright Beginnings school in Hood River. Kids played on the jungle gym oblivious to the morning showers which kept most of the adults huddled in the school doorway.

Teacher Patty Boots had asked parents to make sure each child wore rain boots and brought a change of clothes on Wednesday. It was only coincidence that the kids happened to be taking a field trip to Catherine Creek that morning in search of tadpoles.

The field trip was part of a Frog unit, where the preschool class will have the opportunity to watch the lifecyle of a Frog, beginning with tadpoles.

"We try to incorporate a lot of nature units into our program," said teacher Billie Rumsey.

One by one, 18 or so preschoolers, and 13 parents, piled into cars with windshield wipers swinging and headed east down the Gorge to the popular Washington hiking area.

"Stay behind me and in front of Billie," said Boots as she collected all the kids running around, searching for rolly pollies and the like, after the 20-minute car ride.

Holding hands, the class then headed up the trail, stopping at a large mud puddle midway through for a little play time. Stomping boots -- splash -- laugh -- chuckles -- rolled out of the kids as they got their boots good and muddy for the second half of the hike.

Rounding the corner was a beautiful, large oak tree with branches stretching out over the backside of a small pond. Tadpole central.

Some of the kids started slowly, while a few of the braver boys grabbed their cups and went full force into the water. Others were content to squat down at the water's edge and keep their feet on dry ground.

"Someone falls in every year," laughed Boots as a few of the toddlers lost their footing and ended up gently falling down in the water, making their pants fully soaked.

"I found one," yelled a few kids in unison. Cup after cup dipped into the ponds. Hands were then raised high, trying to grab what little sunlight was breaking through the clouds, to see if any tadpoles were swimming through the murky green pond water.

Dozens were discovered. Maybe hundreds. Slowly they were put into a large jug to take back to the classroom. Leaving the pond, the kids hiked down a small creek in search of further discovery.

Some found -- and held -- worms for the first time. Egged on by their peers, discovery was limitless.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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