At least one, if not several, common frogs (Rana temporaria) have chosen our small pond in which to begin their next generation. Big clusters of spawn are nestled among the Spirogyra algae, which, according to resident ecologist Stephan Harding is one of their key food sources. The dark forms within each translucent, gelatinous orb are growing every day. They’ve elongated slightly from their initial tiny speck, and I can barely make out variation in their outlines that will eventually differentiate further into tadpole, and frog. They’ve just begun to wiggle ever so slightly.
He looked up at me a few times, but did not seem to have the energy to hide himself, only making one half-hearted attempt.
Tadpoles are listed among newt cuisine. I wonder if we’ll have any such dramas in our pond soon? Upon sharing these observations with a friend, I pondered… “I don’t know who I’m rooting for.” “Gaia,” he said. I think that pretty much sums it up.
That same morning, from the edges of my peripheral vision I glimpsed a robin shuffling along the ground in one of the perennial garden beds, picking up old, damp leaves in her small beak. (Subsequent research tells me that, like in blackbirds, the female builds the nest, though the male brings food to her during this time.) She flew off into the surrounding shrubs, out of sight, presumably to add it to a her collection in a well-concealed crevice somewhere. According to RSPB, robin nests are made with dead leaves, moss, and lined with hair. I will leave some of my own out for her and see what happens!
The magpie pair, who a few weeks ago were constantly carrying supplies to their conspicuous twiggy house in a young tree at the edge of the vegetable garden now seem to be mostly…hanging out. They fly their regular routes from nest to forest edge, nest to open field, nest to neighboring garden. Usually, they stick together; when one takes off, the other follows a second or two after. They have neither nesting material nor food in their beaks when they return, so I’m not sure what they’re up to. Sometimes they just sit in the upper canopy for long stretches of the day, making their ratcheting call and flapping their tails. Are they in some kind of waiting mode, nest ready, for when conditions feel just right? This is a season of anticipation.
Each day brings new shoots and flowers forth as well. Living and working in one place, moving around the gardens each day, details catch my attention that bring the continuous, coming-into-being of this season into ever-higher resolution. Hazel's microscopic, bright pink female flowers emerge as the male catkins begin to decay; nettle shoots poke their heads above the grass, followed by pungent wild garlic; the herb garden is suddenly covered in promises of fresh mint; just the other day, dwarf comfrey quietly let down its pink, blue and white blossoms. Sometime since yesterday morning, radish’s true leaves took shape from a sea of cotyledons. Dandelion shows its exuberant face here and there, filling me with thoughts of summer, sweat, and dandelion wine.
These are just a few characters from this place and season. There are many more, some of which are familiar to me, many of which are living their own full, self-willed lives beyond my conscious awareness. And yet, even those I do not ‘know’ are a part of my experience, shaped by and shaping an ungraspable, irreducible whole.
I remember distinctly the low arc of the sun at midwinter, when our workdays were cut short by sudden dusks. The light lingers now. That expressive and unknowable whole speaks to me of spring, and I speak back to it with my attention and actions. When the work day ends, I do not - cannot - hurry in.