Spring Night at the Pond

It is pitch dark outside.  C and I are in muck boots, flashlights in hand, slowing picking our way through the tall grass around the pond.

We have a one-acre pond at the bottom of the north side of our ridge, fed by rain water run-off.  Now that the windows are open with the arrival of warmer temperatures, the songs of the pond call us out tonight.

We slowly tromp our way down the hillside by flashlight, as it is not yet moonrise and very dark.  In the ghostly light, the hillside glade looks like a fantasy moonscape of rocks and rounded mounds of white and green moss.  The air is cool but not cold.  We make it down to the pond bank, picking our way through the grass and reeds.  We can barely make out the black sheen of water stretching out before us.

The night vibrates with the call and songs of frogs – burrs, trills, croaks, chuckles, whistles, I run out of words to describe the cacophony.  C can identify some of them like a birder can identify a bird by its song.  She is as excited as a school girl at her favorite amusement park.

By the sound of things, the frogs seem to be everywhere, but we sweep and sweep the water’s edge with our flashlights and spot nothing.

“How can this be?” I say aloud.  “It sounds like they are right here between my feet, and I see nothing.”

“They’re there,” she says softly, “you just hafta keep looking…”

We search and search the grass and reeds, and C finally spots the nose of a bullfrog poking out of the water, barely a foot off-shore.  It sits motionless, its body invisible beneath the surface of the pond.

C spots another one, much smaller than the bullfrog, clearly visible on a patch of watergrass.  It’s green and about the size of my thumb.  Suddenly, it puffs up its throat to the size of a large olive and calls to a mate with a near-metallic whirrrrr!  Both C and I gasp in joy.

We hear another one literally at my feet call back, and now that we know what to look for, we spot it instantly, whirring away between my boots.  C flicks her flashlight beam to the first frog, and it has moved a good foot closer to its calling companion, whirring away.  Knowing what to look for now, we spot many more frogs in the pond where we saw none before.

A full moon slowly rises above the tree line, soft and lovely, and its yellow light now fills the glade.  It is Holy Week.  Easter is the only Christian liturgical day that is based on the lunar calendar, as it is so closely married to Jewish Passover.  I consider how the frogs have risen from the depths of the pond after their long winter in torpor.  They return yet again in the spring and sing their eternal songs.  Rising songs, rising moon, risen Savior. No long winter can prevent them from rising.  It is as if all of Nature was meant to follow the Savior and rise. He rises yet again, rising above the tree line with soft, lovely light.

The frogs sing their songs of festival days, and we smile in joy and gratitude as we stroll back up the hill.

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