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That's what the title of the popular children's (and everybody's) song "Sauna taga tiigi ääres" means. So what did the characters Miku and Manni look like? Has anybody illustrated this tale?... They were catching konna/poegi (tadpoles, pollywogs, literally "frog young") lõhki/löödud panniga – with a old, beaten up, cracked pan. (In the original rhyme, written in 1901 by Hermann Julius Schmalz, they were catching "ühe poti tükiga".)

 

Instead of Miku and Manni, here we have 3 girls from Tallinn on their season opener weekend in the country: Suvi Mari, Behind the sauna, by the pond.

 

Helena and Tuule, in grades 2, 3 and 4 respectively. No pann, no saun in sight and the vee/kogu (body of water) is not natural, but was also not intended to be a tiik (pond). What locals call Tika auk, the hole at the crossroads on Saaremaa island known as Tika, used to be a kruusa/karjäär (gravel pit) during the period of Soviet occupation. Since then, allikad (springs)

have filled it with water and currently its warm pools are full of hundreds of tiny, black konna/kullesed – the official name for tadpoles.

 

The Estonian etymological dictionary says kulles comes from the lower German "kule" for tadpole. A kulles is the tailed aquatic vastne (larva, larval stage) of a kahe/paikne (amphibian); frog, toad, newt or salamander – konn, kärn/konn, vesilik või salamander. They breathe through lõpused (gills) and as they grow, develop kopsud (lungs) and jäsemed (limbs) and reabsorb their sabad (tails). Miku and Manni ended up fighting about these muundused (metamorphoses), but these young ladies enjoyed a konnakulles foot massage, not much unlike a trendy kala/pediküür or kala/teraapia.

 

Mai on Eestis kesk/konna/kuu. Not middle frog month, but environment month, since the nominative is kesk/kond – the place you are in the middle of (keskel). But who could be a better poster boy for kesk/konna/kuu than the konn?! Aprill is actually the month when konnad are in the spotlight in Eesti, since that is the month of their ränne (migration) to breeding grounds, when thousands of volunteers come out to help them cross roads and highways safely. Visit the

Facebook page "Konnad teel" (Frogs on the Road) and www.konnad.elfond.ee.

 

Estonia has been experiencing an unseasonable heat wave for almost 2 weeks and Tika auk has also welcomed this year's first inim (human) swimmers.

 

Photo and text:

Riina Kindlam,

Tallinn 

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