Spring Peepers
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 09:36
Frog 1Sometimes I have to remind myself to pause and take it all in. To breathe in the sweet, fragrant springtime air. Yesterday it smelled like raspberry candy. To watch and listen to the birds as they gleefully welcome each new day and new growth on the treetops. It cannot be overstated how magical spring is - new bits of greenness appear every day; places of bare limbs and empty spaces are suddenly filled and made whole again. The mountain is speckled with bits of green, white, and pink. Sweat bees have emerged and greet me at the door each morning at eye-level. After weeks of rain, the trench between the high tunnel and the house has become a small pond and home to happy, cacophonous frogs who are laying eggs and singing love songs all afternoon in the dappled sunlight.

I went in for a closer look yesterday... Singing Frogs Video

Then I noticed two together in the water... lovers? or mama and baby? Babies are tadpoles... right? Well, whatever they are, they were having a good time in the tepid rain pool. Wink, wink.

Two Frogs

Notice the strings of black pearls, frog eggs, that will soon give us even more voices in our valley chorus. Several of these frogs hibernate in the high tunnel each winter. Here's one I spotted in February still sleeping. He was so zonked out that he didn't seem to mind that I accidentally disturbed him, and then tried to tuck him back in. He kicked some dirt up over and his head and went back to sleep.

Hibernating Frog in high tunnel

Let's call him "Sleeping Beauty"

 

A blackbear has been spotted digging in the trash, and his scat has been seen on the trails between ours and our neighbors' houses. They wake up hungry and come looking for the quickest meal possible. Next spring, we'll have chickens outside and will have to take some extra precautions once hibernation season has ended.

I spotted the first hummingbird yesterday. She came over to the porch to check out the pink impatiens I had just planted, and then I saw her making a wild flight pattern above the flowering quince shrub. She proceeded to swing back and forth - in the pattern of a giant pendulum - chirping with delight as she noted which flower she'd visit next. Watch carefully and you'll see her darting in and out of the frame. The Flight of the Hummingbird

This morning, a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird was visiting the Bleeding Hearts right outside my office window while I was in a live online class seminar at my desk. I paused and told the students about it, and they asked if they could come for a visit.

This bird, what I think is a female oriole, was watching me watch the hummingbird doing her pendulum navigation. What queer creatures these humans are, she must have been thinking. She was busy gathering bits of things to take to her nest in the pine trees behind the house.

Mama Oriole?

As the sun headed toward the horizon, I picked our first sampling of baby Partenon Zucchinis for dinner. The Earthy Cowoby said, "I could eat a big bowl of those." They were tender and fresh. The plants are laden with flowers and fruit. Soon, we'll be harvesting them 3-4 times a week!

First Zucchini Harvest

While enjoying the spring in all its glory, I am reminded of the flora and fauna that that have been preserved around us. With gratitude for his generous donation of a portion of the upper Dauphin woodlands for public use, and his generous contributions to the preservation of its natural beauty, we tip our hats to Mr. Ibberson who passed away last Saturday. His 350-acre tree farm that he donated to the state now serves as a recreational spot, and a contains trails that we hike to find the rare Pennsylvania orchid, the Lady Slipper, which blooms in May. We send our condolences to his family.