Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Life of ... Who?

April 1, 2010
Moreau Lake State Park

Things have settled down at the Frog Pool near my house, so off I went to the place where I heard my first wood frogs ever – Moreau Park.

There are several vernal and vernal-type ponds within the park. (True vernal ponds dry up during the summer, as I understand it.)
These liquid gems, set here and there in the forest, are special places. The frogs need ponds like this, where there are no fish lurking to prey on them or their young.
At Vernal #1, the quacking noise was audible from quite a distance away. These frogs, unlike their suburban cousins in Queensbury, were much more shy.
When I walked down into the forested bowl toward the pool, cronching over the dry leaves as I walked, they immediately hushed and dove for cover.

The only frogs I could get close to were this pair,

locked in an operatic embrace something right out of Tristan und Isolde. Love or death? Sometimes both, if you're a frog.

One thinks of a frog’s life as being spent entirely in oozing slime and muddy muck – but sitting here a while, it seems that, at least for a portion of their short lives, they float in liquid constellations –-

-- in sky-water.

As I sat crouched on the edge of the pool, a few brave ones popped to the surface silently, eyebumps betraying their location.

No quacking, though (even after I tried a few test clucks on them.)
After some time, I stood up, stretched my legs, and walked away, back toward the main trail. Within minutes, as my footsteps receded, the frog conversations in Vernal #1 started up again. Apparently it was a private affair to which humans were not invited.

Thoreau's Journal, March 28, 1853:
My Aunt Maria asked me to read the life of Dr. Chalmers,
which however I did not promise to do.
Yesterday, Sunday, she was heard through the partition
shouting to my Aunt Jane, who is deaf,
“Think of it! He stood half an hour to-day to hear the frogs croak,
and he wouldn’t read the life of Chalmers."


  1. Think of it! Crazy lady nature nuts who crouch by vernal pools for hours, just to hear the frogs croak!

    Amazing photos, Sue. Love and death, heaven and earth. With most appropriate quotes from Thoreau, to boot.

  2. That was quite beautiful: liquid constellations and sky water.

    The frogs here, too, seem to always know when I'm approaching their pool and when I leave, even if I'm a quiet as a mouse. I suspect they use mirrors.