“In the woods the tree frogs were going smelling rain in the air.”
— William Faulkner, New Albany native, Nobel Prize for literature in 1949 (1897-1962)
“Far outside the city the tree frogs were calling her, and the deep rhythmic pulse of their voices set the blood flow to her heart.”
— Ann Patchett, American novelist, memoirist (1963-)
The wind kicked up and the temperatures plummeted, and I wondered how my tree frogs would survive. A cool thing happened, no pun intended, but suddenly I became like a tree frog whisperer. They showed up everywhere. The first couple of frogs were found near the front door on the glass window. They were feeding themselves from the bugs attracted by the lantern. During the day they would climb or hop into my watering jugs positioning themselves just above the waterline. They are so tiny, some more so than others, being about the size of a thumbnail.
Three of the little fellows were found in different places. They don’t try to hide or jump away so I talk sweetly then cover them with my hand. Using both hands to lightly carry them to the front door under the lantern. One little fellow did escape me when I checked the watering jug for frogs and not seeing any, I poured water onto the yellow mums and a frog jumped out. I searched but couldn’t find him. The mums were extremely thick and he could easily lose himself in their denseness. I hoped he’d find his way back to the lantern.
Most of that day was spent moving plants to the greenhouse in anticipation of the cold temperatures. In the greenhouse on a high window, I spotted another tree frog. He was way too high for me to relocate him to the lantern. As of yet I’ve not found the first tree frog in a tree.
For the next two cold nights I did not see my tree frogs under the lantern. I found one tree frog behind the fall wreath on the door. I wondered if he had frozen then I saw his eyes flutter open. He stayed there in that same position for several days. I checked the water jugs everyday but there were no tree frogs. The following day it occurred to me the tree frogs probably would not come out at all. The night was so cold there were no bugs.
Sam did a little investigating on the internet for building a tree frog house. There are a couple of posts and a few YouTubes. A home for the tree frogs can be made from a five foot long, one-inch thin sided PVC pipe. One design suggested closing off the bottom end and filling the pipe with water about five inches up with a small hole in the side so the water would not flood the pipe. The top is open so the frog can come and go; much like my plastic watering jugs. Another design cut the PVC at an angle and stuck it in the ground. Strangely enough the frogs will make pipes or jugs their homes. An adult tree frog can go a month or more without eating so I won’t worry. By the way on day three temperatures warmed to the sixties and the tree frogs and bugs were out again.
My tree frogs reappeared in the water jugs and the tree frog in the mums found his way into the pansies. All is well.
Shannon Bardwell is a writer living quietly in the Prairie. Email reaches her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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