Monday, August 18, 2008


I stand at the edge of Little Pond pool, its green, grassy basin rimmed with field flowers reaching beyond my waist. It was in this very spot that I found him last spring, my first spotted salamander, climbing over the berm to re-enter the water of his birth, and the study of my vernal pool began.

The emptiness seems a loss now, for the thousands of lives that gathered here or hatched from the egg masses, have gone. Most, moving out into the fields and woods on newly sprouted legs. The last remaining few, picked up by a solitary sandpiper—watching the vanishing water as I, slipping like sand through an hourglass.

It is this emptiness that is its essence.

February 2008

May 2008

July 2008

August 15, 2008

Autumn rains will fill the basin once more.
The pool will wait for spring.
And on a warm, rainy night in March, we will both return.

Spotted Salamander in Little Pond pool
March 2008

Vernal pools are wetlands that become dry for periods of the year, and, for that reason, cannot contain fish. Certain amphibians must use these waters for breeding so their eggs will not be eaten.
Destruction of vernal pools by draining or fill, disrupts the life cycle of Wood Frogs and several salamander species, including the Spotted and Jefferson. Each spring, these interesting animals cover great distances to return to the pools of their birth and breed again, only to find them gone.
Many states have begun vernal pool monitoring programs to ensure the health of these very important ecological areas.

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scienceguy288 said...

Ah, the cycles of life. Reading your posts is like reading Walden. Thanks.

She sure is strange! said...

So you live in that little house on the other side of the barn? AWESOME!!! This is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I've ever seen, just stunning. Oh you are so blessed!


ps, cool info on the vernal ponds, not something that happens a lot in hot east Texas, they get zapped by the sun pretty quick here.

pps, my daughters rescued some eggs from our green swampy swimming pool several days ago and now we've got teeny tadpoles! Should we ask our neighbor with the nice water feature/pond if we can put them in it?

Rambling Woods said...

Nina..I have followed your vernal pool posts with great interest. On our property are protected wetland woods. In the spring there must be similar things going on, but I haven't gone back there then. I guess I should... Michelle..

KGMom said...

I love the series of photos showing the cycle of a vernal pool. I think I first read about them on Tom's (Mon@rch's) blog, but then read more fully about them on your blog. I am thrilled with the information you provide.
I will have to see if PA is one of those states that monitors health of vernal pools.

nina said...

science guy--yes, the emptiness I feel now is made less by the fact I know it will cycle 'round again, they'll be marching before I know it!

she sure is strange--A pond would be better than anything this time of year. Vernal pools are drying faster than the frogs can mature, so, even though they might prefer the safety of a vernal pool, in all likelihood, time will favor those in ponds.

Rambling woods--You must do it! I can remember still the feeling of finding life walking across the chilled field. And watching amphibians is so rewarding--in a clear womb (water) it all happens before your eyes. Fascinating and so worth the effort.

kgmom--I found a lot of links to other states' organizations. Take a look here:

Pennsylvania DOES have a pool watchers group!

NCmountainwoman said...

I had wondered about the pool and whether the water was all gone. Thanks for the update.

Crayons said...

Wow, I remember that beautiful post last year. I feel more and more like a faithful reader.

The time-lapse photos are just wonderful.

Thanks for sharing that information about vernal pools. But, my god, how depressing to read what horrible things we humans do to mess up the majestic order of things.

Kerri said...

What a wonderul post Nina! You always make me "feel" what you are saying.

Robin Easton said...

What a beautiful post. I love how you show and describe the seasons. You have deep connection with the land that I so relate to. And your photos are beautiful. I didn't know what vernal pool was, and found it fascinating. They whole lifecycle that is dependent upon it is amazing. We humans rush in and doze and fill and scrape and kill, and we have no idea what are losing or how precious and important it is to our own lives. Thank you SO much for knowing and caring.

Such a lovely site you have.

Island Rambles Blog said...

I love the caring and sensitive way you write about the vernal has really educated me as I have been reading your blog for some time now...I never knew enough about ponds or vernal pools to be able to celebrate them and respect I am looking for them. Your blog is a beautiful message to awaken us all.

nina said...

Oh, I'm glad to hear that.
Sometimes I'm not sure of my niche--I'm not the expert; i'm not the artist.Yet, if I can cast the natural world in a light that allows other to see --that's my greatest hope.

I believe much of habitat destruction arises because there's a lack of understanding of its importance and appreciation for the beauty in diversity.

There are just a few too many ChemLawn, perfectly manicured lands out there!

KatDoc said...


Great season-by-season photos of your vernal pool. A person can read the description of what a vernal pool is, but seeing it makes it much more clear.

i have only ever seen a few salamanders in my life time, mostly ones that I dug up while gardening. I would love a chance to see them doing their thing in person. Call me in Feb,. OK?


Randal Graves said...

Very cool shots, watching the change from season to season.

Margaret Cloud said...

We raised a Salamander once, my cousin gave it to us in a fish bowl and said I think it is dead, I could not throw it out, so it remained in the bowl til spring and I saw it move, it's alive my son shouted, we went to the pet store and ask what it ate and got meal worms, when it was good and healthy we released it in a small creek with rocks so it could hide. We called him Fruitport Elmer, that is the name of the City, he swam away and disapeared in the rocks.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

What a pleasure to read! Poetry and prose, illustrated with the glory of nature!

RuneE said...

Nice to see an E with a deeper meaning - not Empty.

'JoAnn's-D-Eyes'NL said...

wow!! a great blog with fantastic nature E's thanks for sharing! this is the ESSENCE of life!

please visit my blog here;

Greetings JoAnn's-D-Eyes

Texas Travelers said...

Sad at the loss, but filled with joy at the approach of a renewed year and the cycle of life.

Nice "E" today.
Come visit Elfins and Egrets, Click here.

Troy and Martha

CaBaCuRl said...

Thank you for sharing such a heart-felt post with us. You live in such a beautiful place.

ellen b said...

Whoa! That is very cool. I love the photo sequence of time passing at this pond.

leslie said...

Reminds me of the Disney movie "The Lion King" and the circle of life. Beautifully written.

Old Wom Tigley said...

I enjoyed all your posting about this pond and the live you found within... nice to see the views here... I have gone for Empty... but something far less important than this stinnind wildlife haven

shutterhappyjenn said...

That salamander is so cute! =)

My E picture is now posted, too! You can check it out HERE if you have the time. Thanks!

Julie Zickefoose said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

I swooned over the black swallowtail skin with helmet still attached.

But these season-by-season shots of the same pond---oh, magic.

magiceye said...

Essence of Emptiness... Excellent!

Check out my Engine here

photowannabe said...

Well written cycle of the seasons. Great pictures and a creative post for E.

kjpweb said...

A Great post! Wonderfully done!
Cheers, Klaus

nina said...

Julie--I've saved that little helmet. Heaven only knows where to keep a small treasure like that!

Very small hat box??

nina said...

Kathi--The invitation's open.
For appropriate party attire, please see here.

Tash said...

What a poniant post - I loved your description & the changing seasons & of course, the salamander. This is my favorite E entry.

Denise said...

Wonderful, absolutely awesome.
Thanks so much for being part of ABC Wednesday.