Tuesday, September 8, 2009

If You Fill It, They Will Come

I have a little frog pond garden right off my office porch, featuring a 50-gallon Rubbermaid stock tank sunk into the earth and filled with some big rocks, a bunch of leaves, some rain water and 23 frogs. There used to be a miniature pink water lily in there, too, but it’s too shaded for the lily to be happy, so I moved that into a galvanized bucket on the front steps, where it gets full sun and actually made a tiny little pink lily flower this summer. Two frogs have moved into that bucket too.

I got the idea for the frog pond several years ago when the children abandoned their blow-up castle swimming pool after a few short weeks of playing The Siege Of Harfleur In Bathing Suits. I didn’t dismantle it in a timely way, and it turned green, and then when I was going to dismantle it because it was green and gross and an eyesore, it turned out to have numerous small frogs in it. At the end of the summer, we collected them all in mason jars and took them to the closest pond, half a mile away. But the next summer, when we dug the hole and inserted the stock tank, it filled right back up with frogs, and not all the same kind, either. The largest one is now more than 3 inches long, which I assume means he or she is an old-timer.

We continued to take them out every fall and carry them down to the pond to sink into the mud for the winter, but then we got a stock tank de-icer, which is a floating heater coil that I run on an extension cord out the basement window. It costs a few bucks a year to keep a little circle of open water in the center of the pond (which you have to have or your frogs will suffocate) but it beats sticking your arms into icy water all afternoon one day in late October, and then never being sure if you got everybody, or if someone is under a rock, resisting salvation. Plus other animals come and drink at the pond on winter nights, which you can tell by the footprints in the snow the next day.

I do wonder how the frogs find new water that is so far from the old water, and whether at night in the springtime, the world is secretly covered with frogs, walking everywhere in search of their new world.

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