I love it when Goose Lake challenges the sky for our amusement.
The sky, with infinite palette at its disposal,
Decorates its face in pink and blue.
The lake, knowing it can do that too,
Looks up and makes the sky a friendly proposal.
The sky, with all its glorious resources,
Accepts and turns the end of day aglow.
The lake, with placid confidence below,
Repeats each nuanced masterpiece that courses
Across the heaven’s briefly lit display.
As evening drops the curtain on the stage,
The actors, now grown bleary, disengage.
We, in grateful silence, toast the day.
(c) David L. Harrison
Yesterday morning Sandy and I sat by a living room window to read the paper and have our coffee. Just beyond the glass, on a patio chair cushion, a small creature was at rest in the weak sunlight. I kept looking at it, trying to decide if it was a spider or a large fly. To see a fly remain in one spot so long is uncommon. I wondered if I might be watching a fly in the process of dying. Not that it mattered much but I was curious enough to invest twenty minutes of observation.
I happened to mention it to my M.O.W., who immediately got up, opened the door, said “fly,” and smacked at it with a napkin. I watched the insect zip away safely, leaving behind a tiny dark spot on the cushion. My curiosity ended just short of going out to investigate the gift. For one thing, it was on the chair she sits in, next to mine.
For the past several years I’ve watched the limbs on two of our hackberry trees reach for one another. Each growing season they add a few more inches to their outstretched arms, like lovers struggling desperately to feel the embrace of the other. At the end of last year, when falling leaves revealed the denuded bony fingers separated by bare inches, I was sure that this year they would make it, this year I would witness the day when their union was consummated.
I see three possibilities for the first to touch. A good wind might hasten the moment. A heavy rain might droop them together. But I prefer a bright, hot sun following a growing rain. I want to see this happen fair and square. I believe the limbs want it that way too. No kiss and run for them. They have worked for this and they have earned it. One day this summer, or next, I will look up and see the hungry limbs of these two trees touching leaves. Like kissing on the first date, I know they will feel good all the way down to their tap roots. I want to be there to celebrate with them.
And here we are at Saturday. Yesterday we recorded another 3+ inches of rain and a pair of toads promptly showed up in our pool. They seemed to be good friends. As I watched, she laid out a long strand of eggs into the water that resembled a DNA double helix. Feeling like a midwife, I scooped both toads out with my hands. They gazed around for a few minutes before hopping off in different directions. The male paused briefly at the edge of a large hostas plant, piped a tired little note, and disappeared.
The eggs won’t make it of course. If the sting of chlorine doesn’t get them, the crushing will of the robot on patrol will. The toads won’t know of the tragedy. Or care. True to their nature, they successfully mated, left the proof under four feet of water at the bottom of our pool, and hopped on to other matters. Whether the eggs prosper or perish is of no concern to them. That’s why so many toads leave so many eggs this time of year. Some will survive and that’s all that matters.
With apologies for the hurried photography, that’s all for now at Goose Lake.
Two nights ago our lovelorn toads were singing the rain their lustiest come-hither songs. I counted seven but knew there were others. Yesterday three men came and opened our pool. To do that they first drained off the water that covered the pool cover with a nasty soup that harbored crane fly larvae and toads that tucked their secrets out of sight.
The men cleaned off the cover and put it in storage before attending to the clean water beneath and refilling the top few inches of the pool. Now the water is nice and clear again and waiting for us to enjoy our first dip once the weather warms up enough.
The toads? The guys said they never saw any. They either sucked them up in the large hose they use to transfer the water downhill into the lake or they picked them up in their wide-mouthed leaf scoopers they use to gather up accumulated debris. The toads either escaped through the hose — a rather daring-do deed indeed — or they met an untimely fate stuffed in large cans packed in among the leaves. If the latter, I can only say, with a man’s logic and sense of humor, at least they went out happy.