Sunday, April 13, 2008

Picture this

Admittedly, most of my time this spring has been focused on areas other than the pond.
Two vernal pools within a few steps of my back door and the nocturnal creatures, drawn there from the woods to breed, have caught my eye—at least until I understand better exactly who they are and what they’re up to.

Last night at dusk, another chorister joined this celebration of spring. The American Toad—his voice a trill, long outlasting all other callers.

But each time I set off toward the pools, lantern in hand to locate his watery perch—I found nothing. Nothing, that is, except peepers—now calling with such enthusiasm, I raised the hood on my jacket to cover my ears.
They rang with the sound.

In the morning, I’ll return.
As the quiet settles over the big pond, to see, perhaps, if this is where they’re breeding.

Double strings of eggs—small and black, with white undersides, in fine lines of jelly—strewn across the plants in the shallows.
Very small and difficult to spot against the glare of the still water’s surface.
I hope to find them here.

I step carefully into the water, lifting each leg quite high as I step—not wanting to stir up the mud and muck. My big spotted feet sinking beneath the dense grasses at the edge—the water over my ankles.
My new glasses for old eyes, bifocals, make a casual glance at my toes, now impossible. My posture becomes much more deliberate—bent forward at the waist and peering straight down in order to see, facing the water at a close distance.

Another high, slow, calculated step.
I stop and stare. Craning my neck even further forward and cocking my head to the side, attempting to see more clearly.

No eggs or toads today.

A tall, stalking form.
In a blue and gray jacket.
This is for the birds.

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Island Rambles Blog said...

As always a great story of your wanderings at night with a touch of humor at the end...sorry "no eggs of toads tonight...just the tall stalking form"!!!...I am glad I am not the only one struggling through mud, climbing rocks, scrambling through brush, just to get that picture for my blog readers!!! Such fun! cheers Nina.

Jennifer said...

Toads are my favorite. I love their song the best. I love their eggs the best (my daughter once called them mermaid necklaces.) I love their little black tadpoles the best. And I especially love how absolutely tiny they are when the get all their adult parts. Once I thought I was walking through a field of crickets that turned out to be newly adult toads! They're my favorite!

Of course, those wood frogs are awfully cute with their little masks... Hmm....

T.R. said...

My sister built a little pond in her backyard in the middle of urban Oklahoma City one spring. In no time the four by four pool of water was inundated in the evenings by mating American toads. How they got there and from where they came remains a mystery to me. The cacophony of mating toads became so loud that the neighbors called the police. Now most spring nights she goes to the pond in the dark with flashlights and moves the toads to a country pond. I'll ask her to send some your way.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I haven't heard any toads yet either. I think they don't like this cold spell. It won't be long tho. I love your haiku.

SLW said...

You sound just like the heron, blue and gray jacket and all! Keep up the great work and photos!