Saturday, March 27, 2010

No Permanent Planting

I don't know about that. It sure looks pretty permanent to me.

This cemetery sign always makes me laugh to myself as I drive past to visit a friend. I've always wanted to take a picture of it, so yesterday I finally did. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Frog Eggs

Second day of spring. I just walked back from a visit to the pond at the top of my hill. For those of you following the amphibian progress up there, here's today's (3/21/10) photo of the sunlit clusters of thousands of eggs. The party is still going strong ... wild and noisy. Harper & Row's Complete Field Guide to North American Wildlife describes what I referred to as the frogs' "chuckle-grunt" as "A short rasping clacking almost like clucking (not quacking) sound of domestic ducks." To me, their combined effort still sounds like a TV laugh track. Apparently they call only during breeding season, which begins very early in the spring, "even before ice has completely melted." Their range extends north of the Arctic Circle. Rana sylvatica doesn't hibernate under the water, but in logs, stumps, and under stones.

The top two photos of frogs are from their arrival day, St. Patrick's Day, 3/17/10. There were so many photogenic amphibians on hand! Just click on the images to enlarge the photographs. (Then you can admire the frogs' "prominent light dorsolateral folds.") See previous posts for more on the pond. You can do a blog search for the word "pond" and see what comes up as well. I think I am going to check that out right now .... Okay, I'm back. I did the "pond" search of the blog -- how clear it is how much that place means to me. And since the frogs' 2009 arrival comes up, it was fun to revisit those posts and see how closely they correspond with this year's observations.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spider Zero

A week ago, across from the path leading up to the pond, this hardy March spider posed at the exact center of the zero on a house number sign. Snow still on the ground, ice on the pond, and -- strangely -- spider on the cold metal zero. Bull's-eye! I was able to get one shot right up close (he/she patiently waited for me), but when I blinked, the spider had vanished. The striking black and white pattern the spider had formed was like a fleeting, coded message, if only I could decipher it.

Here's another bull's-eye from poet Paul B. Roth, "Invisible":


I know well
the black spots
in apple leaves

I'm intimate
with the moist dust
each eaten center

with blonde-green
threading webs
through each one
of these holes

and who
when they see me
through this emptiness

by balling up
as if each
were one
of my unknown selves

-- Paul B. Roth

This piece is part of Paul Roth's beautiful and whispered collection, Cadenzas by Needlelight: Three Winters of Poems from Cypress Books (Rio Rico, Arizona, 2009). When someone whispers, you listen. "Invisible" was first published in Timber Creek Review. To read an excellent review of the book, visit Cerise Press online. "Invisible" is reprinted here with the author's permission.

The spider also reminded me of a poem that was one of my favorites as a teenager, "Design" by Robert Frost. You can read this poem on The Academy of American Poets Web site.

Pond update: Instant frogs! When I walked up to the pond this morning, the frogs had arrived. I could hear the loud chuckle-grunt of their mating calls from the road. When I got up there, there were countless sparkling little heads at the surface of the water. Noticing me, they suddenly disappeared underwater and all went silent. I was patient and quiet until the wild song began again. I stayed for a long stretch, surrounded by the noisy action. Then I heard rustling in the leaves. More frogs were appearing, converging on the pond, leaping toward the water from several directions. (And those were amazingly long, eager leaps!) I've never witnessed their actual arrival before. Lucky. (You can read two previous posts about the pond by scrolling down.)

The photograph was taken 3/10/10. Click on image to enlarge.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Six Days Later

Same pond, this morning, six days later. No snow, no ice, but still no visible wood frogs. I did see the leaves move under the water in one place, so something is in there. After the wild rains, the path to the pond had become a running stream, gurgling out into and across the road.

All they could see was sky, water, birds, light and confluence. It was the whole morning world.

-- Eudora Welty, The Optimist's Daughter [1978]

Note: See the 3/17/10 post to read about the frogs' overnight arrival.
Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thawing Mirror

The pond begins to pull back its curtains of snow and ice, revealing layers of mystery. It holds the sky and still-naked branches in its thawing mirror. With narrow fingers, the upside-down trees reach for last fall's leaves.

This afternoon I walked up to the pond in search of returning wood frogs, but all was silent. Soon, soon.

The photo was taken 3/10/10 at the pond at the top of my hill. Click on image to enlarge.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Unblinking Stare

Back to anemones, only closer. This flower's bold eye radiates energy. Its unblinking stare is a hypnotic explosion in red, black and white. It's March. Time to wake up.

Somehow the following words from Joseph Campbell, from the prologue of The Hero of a Thousand Faces [1949], fit this image:

Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation. Religions, philosophies, arts, the social forms of primitive and historic man, prime discoveries in science and technology, the very dreams that blister sleep, boil up from the basic, magic ring of myth.

-- Joseph Campbell

Yes. "The very dreams that blister sleep." Beautiful, that.

The photo is of a hybrid anemone I got at Battenfeld's Anemone Farm. Click on image to enlarge. Scroll down two posts to read more about anemones.