Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Oh Well

Here's a wonderful photo of our son Peter, his beautiful wife Sharla, and three of their adorable children frolicking on a Caribbean Island beach.  Sharla, although reared in Brooklyn, was actually born in the tropical island of St. Lucia and many of her family members still live there.

I was booked to join this dear family on a flight to St. Lucia this coming Sunday, and I was SO looking forward to having fun with my grandkids, after more than two years apart. And of course, who wouldn't be excited about those beautiful beaches and tropical sunshine after this slow-to-start spring? But I learned just today that Covid has struck Peter's family and now the trip must be cancelled. Am I bummed? Well, sure I am. But at least the disease struck now and not while far away from home, and thanks to everyone's vaccinations, the illness should be mild. We will have other times to be together. But, damn! So sorry for my son and his family, and so disappointing for me.

Sadly, this new disappointment has triggered memories of two other once-in-a-lifetime adventures  cancelled at the last moment by unforeseen calamities: a 2015 botanical trip to visit Canada's Bruce Peninsula in orchid season was rendered undoable for me by a broken knee; and a 2017 paddling excursion through Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp was cancelled because the swamp caught fire two days before we were due to set out, and all access to the swamp was closed.  I'm beginning to feel that any extra-special trip I plan will be sure to be jinxed.

Oh well, today (Tuesday) was delightfully warm and sunny, and the best way to overcome my sadness would be to get out to enjoy one of the wonderful nature preserves that surround me here at home.  I hadn't yet heard the Wood Frogs croaking their mating songs this spring, and I expected that they might be raising their racket in the vernal pools of the Ballston Creek Preserve a few miles south. And boy, were they ever!

As I approached this pool, I could hear the frogs' loud clucks and see the surface of the water astir with the males' constant juggling for access to the females. But of course, as soon as I drew near, the frogs grew still and silent, momentarily ceasing their amorous clamor and hiding from sight.  

I plastered myself against a camouflaging tree trunk and waited.  Waited.  Waited. It seemed a long while, but eventually, one "cluck!" was answered, then two, then three, then many, all the males vying for mates by the volume of their calls. I began to see movement stirring the water again.  Oh, there's one! Too far away for a clear shot, but I tried my camera's zoom and got a blurry one. Oops, not one frog, but TWO, the male atop the female, ready to flood her eggs with his sperm as she releases them into the water!  Sorry, you two.  Didn't mean to intrude on such an intimate moment.

(Although, as this photo from a previous year's visit to this pond would indicate, Wood Frog sex is hardly an intimate or private affair. More like an orgy, as several males grasp a single female, all the boys scrabbling for the position most effective for fertilizing the eggs.)

Pleased that at last I had heard this wonderful froggy chorus and had actually witnessed their mating, I next ambled around the woods. Would I see any sign yet of the Carolina Spring Beauties that flourish  here in Spring? It seemed a bit early, but hey, the sun was flooding the forest floor with warmth.  And sure enough, I eventually spotted some Spring Beauty leaves protruding above the leaf litter.  Within a week, I expect that thousands of pretty little pink-striped white flowers will be carpeting this woods.

And here was one now!  Just ONE, among acres of forest floor I had searched! I'm going to pretend that this solitary Spring Beauty somehow sensed my need of a little cheering today and opened her pretty bloom just for me.  And cheering it was, to remind me of all the wonders that surround me here in my home territory.   Who needs tropical beaches, when new life is springing forth in the northern woods?


Unknown said...

You have such a great attitude! Sorry about your trip. I think your blog will be a reference for Saratoga's naturalists for all time. They should put it in a museum if you ask me. What a library and peppered with great reminders of how the woods can lift your mood...and of course your beautiful photos.

The Furry Gnome said...

Sorry about the trips! Especially the one up here. There was a small wetland in the pasture behind one of our earlier homes, and I heard a flock of ducks out there one year. I went out to investigate and you guessed it, not a duck in sight. All wood frogs.

Woody Meristem said...

Hopefully your son, his wife and the kids had a good time at the beach even if Grandma wasn't there to spoil them. Saw my first hepatica bud of the spring yesterday but I had to dig for it. Our wood frogs breeding season is over, and the pools are full of eggs now.

threecollie said...

What a beautiful family! I am so sorry that you won't be able to visit. How very sad. Hope they recover quickly and well.