It’s the last full day of Spring, if you measure that season’s departure by the arrival of the Summer Solstice. Of course, it hasn’t felt like Spring for a month now. My area is on track for another record high number of 90+ degree days, and the moderate drought is visibly taking its toll on the vegetation, tall and small.
All Spring, we’ve been watching the cottontail rabbits grow. Here’s one of the teenager bunnies. I call her Betty, but she may be a he, in which case I’ll call him Benny.
The bunnies are fenced out of the vegetable garden. They are free to hop about the yard dining on clover and plantains, which seem to be their favorite food groups. They follow me to the vegetable garden in the morning, watching with what I imagine to be longing as I slam the gate tight behind me, their noses wiggling at the smell of well-watered vegetables. I have no sympathy. They seem to be growing quite fat on the greens I have ceded to them. Why the hawks and owls haven’t found them, I cannot say. These bold bunnies dine openly on the hillside, often accompanied by the calls of Red-Shouldered Hawks.
My neighbor’s pond has yielded a bumper crop of newly emerged toads — both American Toads and Fowlers Toads. For two days, you couldn’t walk in parts of our yard without nearly stepping on a frantically hopping tiny toad. For reasons known only to toad minds, they loitered in our driveway. To avoid a squished toad disaster, I spent a morning scooping them into a bucket and carting them into the vegetable garden. I moved over two dozen, and I think most of them are enjoying their new digs. I spot them resting under squash leaves and beneath basil when I conduct my daily vegetable inspections.
Our little ornamental pond up front is also yielding newly metamorphosed amphibians. The Copes Gray Tree Frogs have been emerging in small groups every few days. Early this final Spring morning I spotted this newly emerged amphibian getting its bearings atop one of our daylilies — Brocaded Gown.
And here’s another froglet — apologies for the fuzzy picture — that shows it still has a bit of its tadpole tail. That’s not unusual on these newly emerged frogs; about a third of them often sport at least a bit of tail when they first leave their birth ponds.
The new life that surrounds me — be it bunnies, amphibians, or acorns — salutes Spring’s boundless enthusiasms. As searing Summer settles upon us, that enthusiasm will become endurance — if we’re lucky. If Summer’s dry grip is too tight, death counts will rise, and we will all be left panting in the dust, begging clouds for raindrops.