Thursday, March 22, 2012

Frogs in Spring, Trees in Bloom

The door of my bus slides open facing an old wood pile and violets poking their heads up through the grass. Birds sing. But it's the frogs in the distance that have my attention.

I've not paid much attention to frogs before, but now I do. There are five of them, as far as I can tell, in the small cement cistern, and it takes an  investment of time to see even one. Only by sitting real motionless for a long while do they appear. You have to look carefully. What you see at first just below and then breaking above the water are a pair of eyes moving very very slowly, so slowly that the water doesn't move. Only the yellow eye hoods, an inch or two every minute.

Finally, comfortable that these almost periscope-like eyes have not spotted danger, the head begins to emerge, and again so very, very slowly. It may take 10 minutes or so before the whole frog is visible. He moves toward the pond's edge so slowly as to appear wind blown -- no ripples at all in the water. There he may stay in the water motionless for another three or four minutes before finally taking the leap to dry land. And there on dry land he sits once again motionless.

What is this frog thinking, what is this frog doing, that moves so slowly and at one with the wind and water around him. I'm sitting in a chair staring and recalculating my thoughts about reptilian intelligence. This sly and charming creature seems to know more that he is letting on, this juicy pair of frogs legs. How can he know so much and be only a frog?

He is, I think, as he looks around, connected to a greater intelligence than himself. And now the frog, the pond, the breeze, the petals in the water become one, and I become one with them. The stillness is absolute. It has to be that way. The slightest movement of my hand -- kerplop.

Beyond the frog pond are the trees and meadows, already in bloom.

Cherry Blossoms.
Temperatures have been in the 80s for days now and all the fruit trees -- peaches, pears, cherries, plums -- have blossomed. In a day or two the apples will too. The groves of trees are a chorus of soft buzzing. Bees everywhere.

These trees, many of them, are old. Fruit trees were planted by the first settlers in the Carolinas and proliferated in the wild and on farms. Some of the cherries and one of the pear trees not far from my bus are well over 25 feet tall. In the flowery spring arrays they stand truly magnificent against the blue sky.

Crab apple blossoms.

A cherry tree more than 25 feet high in full bloom.

Peach blossoms from a young tree.


Back to the frogs. If the frogs detect motion they disappear, back into the pond. But a flashlight blinds and confuses them. They see not motion but light and sit very still.

It is a very peaceable moment at the spring equinox and dark moon with Venus riding high in the sky just after sunset to see the dark frog shapes and yellow eyes on the sitting on the bank above the water with hundreds of petals floating on it.

The first of six frogs makes land around the cistern.
First one, then another, and third emerge, and after about a half an hour five frogs are sitting around the small pond about equal distance apart. A sixth swims slowly in the water—ah, so there are a least six—approaches the bank but does not get out. The seated frogs sit very still, motionless in the flashlight's beam and make occasional frog sounds by the scum pond.

Venus is lower now. We stand and get up, and the half-dozen green-backed white-bellied denizens are gone now and swimming under water.