Thursday, March 17, 2011

A new sound

This week has been increasingly lovely. Each day has been warmer and brighter than the last. The sun shine is getting stronger, making me feel like I am waking up from a long nap. The weak sun in the winter makes me feel like my eyes are not quite open -- not until the rays of the sun strengthen do I feel like my eyes are really, truly open. That's been happening this week.

Violets growing in the woods by the river
Yesterday I was finished with my classes before 2, so I was home early. After lunch, the warm sunshine beckoned me outside. I threw my camera, sketch book, pen and phone into a bag and walked to the river. (I'm not sure why I am always drawn to water on lovely days.....I may have to explore that line of thought one of these days.)

I walked down the road, through a pasture, then along a grassy lane to the river. Everywhere I looked, tiny violets poked up through last year's dead leaves, ferns, and grass. Some were light purple, others, a deep royal purple -- and all of them smelled sweeter than any violets I've ever smelled. They smelled like candy.

As I got closer to the river, I heard a sound I'd never heard before. At first it reminded me of spring peepers back in Maine (little tree frogs), but from the intensity of the sound, I was pretty sure it was coming from a much bigger frog than a peeper.

Earsplitting -- that's a good word to describe the noise from these unseen frogs. I was at the riverbank, but I couldn't see any of the frogs. However, the assault on my eardrums assured me that there were many, many of them right in front of me. I was walking into the sun, so the glare on the water heightened the contrast of everything in front of me. All I could see of the frogs were the rings of ripples left behind after they hopped into the water and disappeared beneath the surface.

I thought that if I turned around and had the sun to my back I would be able to spot at least one of the elusive little guys. Sure enough, not two minutes after I reoriented myself, I saw one of the frogs jump from the bank into the water -- a good-size, spotted frog -- greens and browns -- exactly the same colors as the rocks and algae in the water.

I contemplated trying to catch one, but knowing what is in the water further upriver, decided that would not be a good idea. So I just watched them and snapped a few pictures.

Now that I knew what the frogs looked like, and the light was direct, I saw them at every step I took as I headed back toward the grassy lane to the road. I stopped at one spot where I saw several of the frogs to try to see them making the crazily-loud squeaking/ringing sound. I watched one for a few minutes, but couldn't see anything moving that matched the sound. I shifted my focus to another, larger frog a foot away from the first one and found what I was looking for. As the frog emitted an unearthly-loud squeaking, two bubbles of skin blew up on either side of its head. It looked the frog was made of gray-green bubble gum. As soon as the squeaking stopped, the bubbles deflated.

Bubble-head froggy
For several minutes, I watched the frog with the bubbles -- then I noticed that it was moving toward one that wasn't making any ear-splitting noises nor blowing any bubbles. I wondered if it was a female and the other was a male. Suddenly the bubble-head frog jumped on top of the other frog.

Suspicion confirmed.


  1. Have they asked you to say ბაყაყი წყალში ყიყინებს? Really enjoying your blog.

  2. Noel,
    No, they haven't. Can I assume it's something unsavory? I wouldn't be able to pronounce it correctly anyway.... I can't say the letters "ყ" or "წ!"

    Glad to know you are enjoying the posts!