I apologize to my regular readers for yesterday’s lapse. I took a brief, impromptu vacation less than thirty miles from home, the highlight of which was witnessing the annual mating frenzy of the wood frogs. Yesterday in particular was an unusual day, beginning as it did in a strange house with none of my accustomed morning rituals to get me going. The sky suddenly cleared around 11:00 a.m. and I found myself in excellent company for an afternoon of leisurely exploration in an unfamiliar part of the state forest, driving slowly along the gravel roads looking and listening and most of all smelling the glorious odors of thawing earth and burgeoning life. We chanced upon some ephemeral ponds and puddles right alongside the road that were aswarm with wood frogs. Thus we were able to use the car for a blind, sitting in awestruck silence as hundreds of frogs called and swam and fought and waited for females. The day ended with a free showing of the movie “American Splendor” and a solitary walk in the moonlight when I finally got home.
This morning I’m all tired out and feeling terribly uninspired, so I’ll simply link to one of my favorite nature essays, Some Thoughts on the Common Toad, by George Orwell. Who but Orwell with his no-bullshit, common-man realism could say so clearly why humans need contact with wild Nature? And almost everything he wrote about the British toad applies equally well to the North American wood frog. After the usual false starts, spring has finally arrived in all its glory – a glory that is, as Orwell noted, unofficial, illicit and more than a bit subversive.