Sunday, February 26, 2006
Frogs! I just love ‘em. Really, I do. No, I’m not a frog fanatic with frog sculptures and pictures and stuffed animal frogs scattered about. Nor do I have any desire to eat them even if they do taste like chicken. And I don’t own any pet frogs. However…
There seam to be a number of them that are quite fond of me and my hospitality. They appear to have adopted me and they apparently feel quite at home here. As the sun sets every evening, a cacophony of croaking escalates into a soothing symphony that can be heard three houses away. It really is quite impressive – by the sound of it, there must be hundreds, but the number is probably much lower.
I moved into this home last June. In front of the house, just outside my office window and next to the front door is a decorative pond with electrically pumped brook babblings. It has a little cascading waterfall when I turn it on (which is rare). Sometime in the late summer or early fall, as if by magic, tadpoles appeared in my pond. This, I thought, is so cool! I discovered that the local Petsmart actually had tadpole food. In fact, they had two kinds, snacks and treats. Crazy!
So of course I buy the food and give them some according to the directions. They get bigger and bigger and soon they sprout little hind legs. I keep feeding them (they eat a lot and there are a lot of them) and I’m careful not to add any of the algaecides to the water (or any other chemicals) that may harm them. As careful as I was, their numbers kept on decreasing and it didn’t appear, judging by the ones that were left, that they had hopped off on their own.
Soon enough, they were all gone. Thinking my tadpoles didn’t have the genetic “right stuff” or that maybe some other predator may have got to them, I added the algaecide to kill off the growth that had begun to take over the pond. It worked and the pond was clear in no time. Funny thing though – I didn’t see any evidence of any tadpoles – dead or alive.
Fall turned to winter, the temperature dropped and the rain came. The New Year arrived right on schedule and with it, the croaking of just a couple of frogs. It is not unusual to see or hear critters in this area of Sacramento County. We are not far from the American River and there are numerous creeks and streams flowing nearby. In fact, there is a flock of wild turkeys meandering through the neighborhood on a frequent basis. Hearing a frog croaking here and there is not all that unusual.
Soon enough, the chorus grew and grew and continued to grow. There are times when I can almost feel it. Furthermore, they have taken up residence in and around my now algae-free pond! It was apparent where they were early on, but I could never “catch” them in the act. Every time I went out the front door they went silent. Eventually they got used to my presence and just ignored me.
But I still could not see them. I was baffled. How hard could it be to see this big old loud frog croaking the night away? Finally, I caught one. Well I didn’t actually “catch” it, but I saw it dart off a rock and into the pond to swim under another rock. It was about the size of a nickel. I thought that it must be just a youngster – that the big daddies were too clever to come out of hiding.
Over the next few days I saw some more. The situation was always similar to that first one - small, nickel size frogs. I still couldn’t figure out where all these big old frogs were hiding. Just a couple days ago it hit me: Those were the big old frogs making all that racket! There must be a bunch of nickel size frogs with silver dollar sized lungs (or whatever it is frogs have). Best yet… they were my tadpoles! Most of them apparently and every night they sing me a melody that is never the same but always familiar. It is strangely soothing – almost like being in tune with something much larger than myself.
I guess those tadpoles had to come from somewhere – I can’t wait for next year’s litter (or whatever it is that frogs have). Coincedentally enough, I have no bugs around the front of my house - I've got friends higher on the food chain!