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.
For the past several nights we’ve been hearing a chorus of toads or frogs singing in and around the water on our pool cover. I think they’re toads and am trying to identify them. It’s hard to see their coloring and patterns clearly enough in the dark even with my night binoculars. After a winter’s accumulation, the water on top of the cover is nasty looking but it suits the neighborhood toads just fine. The pool will be opened three days from now so their window for finding mates is drawing down. I can certainly testify that those little males were singing their hearts out last night as we sat in chairs a few feet away to watch and listen, and they never quit all night. At 6:00 this morning they were still at it.
Here’s to those
Who lost but tried,
Who felt the lows,
The wounded pride.
Here’s to those
Who tried but lost,
Who took the blows,
Paid the cost.
It’s safe inside.
Here’s to those
Who at least tried.
(c) David L. Harrison
Sunday evening daughter Robin, son-in-law Tim and grandson Kris came over. I grilled burgers on the grill, which were nowhere near as good as the ones Tim does, but they were tolerable.
While I was in the yard I glanced down the steps to the landing by the water and noticed a rather pronounced accumulation of goose poop. I walked down the steps and discovered that we have a nesting goose on the rocks beside the landing. I don’t know who was more startled, Mother Goose or me, but she wasted no time letting me know how she felt.
“Geez!” she hissed. “You scared the crap out of me!”
“I can see that,” I said. “All over my landing. But I’m sorry I frightened you.”
“Then run along, sonny,” she honked. “Can’t a girl have a little privacy around here?:
“Of course,” I said. “I can see you are in a motherly way.”
“Motherly way?” she snapped. “I’m way past that, you dolt. I’m on my eggs!”
“Well I can’t exactly see under you,” I responded, my pride wounded by her sarcasm.
“You think I’d be sitting here on these rocks if I didn’t have eggs?”
“I suppose not,” I admitted. “But I have to tell you that I’m afraid you’ve picked a poor spot for your nest.”
She began to weave her long neck like a cobra. “Poor place?” she hissed. “What, may I ask, does a dummy like you know about it?”
Now I was getting peeved. Rocks or no rocks, she was on my property and I thought I deserved a little respect. “Because,” I said with a haughty air. “Some poor cluck tried it there on the very same spot two years ago. We had a heavy rain, the lake rose three inches, and the eggs were drowned. That’s what I know!”
She lowered her head and looked out over the water for a minute before responding. “I remember that,” she said with a sigh.
“You remember that but still you’re back?” I was astonished. “Why?”
“Why?” she sighed. “Because the idiot I’m mated to likes me here where he can keep an eye on me while he’s across the lake hanging with the swans, pretending he’s a big gander on a stick.”
Well that took me back a bit. “I can see you’re busy, Mother,” I said. “Sorry to bother you.”
“My problem,” she said, a bit more gently. “Just don’t try to be part of it. Go away. Leave me alone.”
As I walked back up the steps I was sure I remembered her. She was pretty cranky the last time too. Come to think of it, this is the third year she has nested down there. Last year she wound up with two goslings for her trouble. I hope she has even better luck this year. That’s what we need around here: more goose grunt on my steps.