April 2, 2010

More Signs of Spring

Today––a gorgeous, much warmer than normal one––was perfect for the first time this year to hang laundry outside to dry. I washed the green flannel sheets, which will now be going into the closet as the white cotton, aired out in the spring breeze, will now cover the bed. I love the fresh smell of laundry coming in from outdoors; there's nothing like it.

Now that there's some growth in the vegetable garden––the green row surrounded by hay is garlic and the green clump in the distance is sorrel––it was time to put up the electric fence. I've seen several deer near the garden each evening, and the naughty creatures have come up to the front of the house to munch on the new daylily shoots. I bait the fence with peanut butter smeared on a piece of aluminum foil, which I then wrap around the fence wire. If a deer tries to eat the peanut butter, it will get a nasty shock and will stay away from the garden all season long.

And today, a big surprise: the wood frogs are in my pond, making a glorious racket, two weeks earlier than last year. I can see them as points of light surrounded by circular ripples. They are very shy creatures and generally disappear below the surface of the pond if I move near. But I learned something from reading a journal entry by Henry David Thoreau of April 18, 1858:
Frogs are strange creatures. One would describe them as peculiarly wary and timid, another as equally bold and imperturbable. All that is required in studying them is patience. You will sometimes walk a long way along a ditch and hear twenty or more leap in one after another before you, and see where they rippled the water, without getting sight of one of them. You sit down on the brink and wait patiently for his reappearance. After a quarter of an hour or more he is sure to rise to the surface and put out his nose quietly without making a ripple, eying you steadily. At length he becomes as curious about you as you can be about him.

So, I walked very slowly down to the pond, step by step, so that I became a part of the landscape, and the frogs didn't disappear, but kept floating and singing their raucous chorus. The first time I heard these frogs years ago, I kept running out of the house to see if there were ducks on the pond, because that's what they sound like: quacking ducks. If you'd like to hear them, with a background of high pitched peepers, click on this link for a recording. Play it loud and it will put you next to a spring pond in your imagination.


  1. Love the frogs...they did sound like ducks Altoon!

    It looks so different from last month when snow lay around. Washing days like that cheer one up...sunny breezy days when everything dries well...and the smell...yes!
    Very satisfying images of quiet blissfulness!

  2. I was photographing day lily shoots yesterday and realized they can quite resemble to top portion of the fleur-de-lis design one finds all over the world, but which we now mostly associate with France.
    Also, I checked out the wood frogs link and saw that they can almost totally freeze over the winter months! What cool, (pun) creatures.
    How do you keep the littler critters out of your garden? Rabbits, groundhogs, and such? We used to have a neighbor who shot anything that went near his garden, so the local fauna learned not to go anywhere close to Wayne's.

  3. Your laundry photo is so transporting. It embodies the deep resonance of seasonal change and its effect on us.

  4. What is it about seeing wash drying on a line that is so cheering? renewal maybe? the positive sense of fresh and clean? Whatever it is, the image does move us.

    Kim, for the little creatures, I have a second line on the fence, not visible in the photo, that is close to the ground. Though sometimes the woodchucks manage to get in anyway, darn them. And I looked up fleur de lys, and it turns out that they are likely modeled after an Iris, even though the words mean "lily flower".