After the Deluge

May 30, 2012 GardenNature  No comments

We had a lot of rain early this morning, enough that yards were flooded, even mine, which is uncommon.  Lights were down all over the city, most of them working but on a blinking red light.

Tonight the frogs are just singing their little amphibious hearts out.  I can hear them where I sit, with no window open, the tv on, and a window unit A/C running not six feet from me.  It’s amazing that something so small I haven’t even seen them yet this year can be that loud.

A few years ago we had cicadas.  They were one of the 17-year varieties, and it was a BIG crop of them.  They were everywhere in the entire region.

The zoo keepers in Cincinnati couldn’t get the animals to do tricks for their shows because they animals didn’t care about the treats anymore, there were little cicada treats everywhere.

Belle would come in with cicada carcasses in her muzzle, smacking her lips.  To avoid stepping on them was rather a challenge.

Our area of the city was particularly infested.  They don’t really do any harm other than being everywhere for a couple weeks, it’s not scary or potentially dangerous to your person or property, but my God, we had a LOT of them.

You could go out in the driveway and stand under the big white ash tree in the front yard, and the noise was nearly deafening.  It was a low, steady, whirring hum.  When you came inside, your ears almost vibrated from the sound.

For the next few years, I’d find occasional carcasses when I was planting in the garden.  It always reminded me of a news story from an area of upstate New York, near where I lived.  Two men had robbed a diner by threatening to throw a cicada in the hair of the waitress.  She turned the money over to them.

They’re ugly and rather unworldly looking creatures, but totally harmless and less than an inch long, to be clear.

Last year, we had a rainy evening not long after we had opened the pool.  We had dozens of frogs in the yard, probably hundreds, and there were a half dozen around the perimeter of the pool, hopping in the pool, hanging out on the side of the pool, generally cavorting at their own little froggie pool party.

I wanted to let the dogs out, but didn’t want them to bother the frogs, so I went out first to “chase” the frogs away.  Mostly I just wanted them not to be hanging right on the apron around the pool.  One frog, about the size of a walnut, was sitting on the edge, so I stepped towards it, thinking it would hop off.

It did not.

I took another step.

He didn’t move.

Finally I had to nudge him gently with my toe so he’d jump INTO to pool.  I took about four steps and looked back and he had crawled back on the edge of the pool, in his former location.

At some point one says, all right, you all just sort this out yourself.

I let the dogs out.  The puppies, being younger and generally more bent on getting to the farthest edge of the yard as quickly as possible, ran out past the frog, paying it and any other frogs no attention whatsoever.

Belle was behind them, and tends to poke her way out more than the pups, and she noticed the frog, but clearly didn’t know what it was.

She approached the frog, who didn’t move.

Imagine, if you will, a particularly charming illustration in a children’s book.  There is the cute little Scottie with her eyebrows and beard, the upright tail and ears tilted in an angle of curiosity, approaching the little frog, on the edge of the water.

Belle got closer and closer, and the frog stayed stone still.

Until Belle actually touched it with her nose, gently, at which point the frog jumped in the pool.

Belle’s expression was one of surprise and a little bit of playfulness.  The frog, thankfully, stayed in the water until the coast was clear, then went back to his prior post.

Belle had the same expression when, years ago, she was given a large balloon.  She’d never seen a balloon before and I wasn’t thrilled that it had happened, I expected that the explosion when it burst would scare her.

I was quite wrong.  She chased it around the room, thinking it was a ball, until it got caught somewhere and she went to bite it.

The look of surprise and delight was very similar, and she immediately went after the other balloons she was given, popping each one as quickly as she could.

Thank God she didn’t pop the frog.

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