Well, our little wood frog seems to have moved to his winter quarters to hibernate away the winter under a rock or in the brush pile or under a thick layer of leaf litter. He’s been a constant resident of our little backyard pond since he came to us a a tadpole in early summer.
He (or she) was a constant presence in our little pond all through the summer. Sometimes he would be hanging in the water with just his nose and eyes above the surface. Occasionally, he would sit on one of the lily pads. Most often he sat on one of the rocks that surround the pond.
I watched him once in a while hoping to see him catch a fly or a gnat with his tongue. But I never did see that. We did, however, several times see him suddenly leap into the air from his place on a rock, catch a flying insect in mid-air, and then splash down into the pond.
Over the course of the summer, he seemed to become accustomed to our presence. Only when we would walk up on him suddenly would he spring in a flash of green from his rock into the center of the pond and disappear into the dark water. But if we approached the pond slowly and without a lot of noise or extraneous motion, he would keep his place on the side of the pond, though I had the sense that he was alert to our presence and ready to make a quick dive if he needed to.
As the summer slid into fall, our little green friend seemed to spend more time in the water and less time on his rocks. Still, any hint of sunshine would always bring him up on the rocks to soak in some warmth.
As October wore on, I went out to the pond regularly to check on my little neighbor. Frost began to come on, starting as a light coating on the grass in the open areas of the lawn. By the time I got my last picture of our little friend, we had already had several hard frosts that required the use of scrappers before we could drive the cars. And still, by mid-day, our froggy neighbor could be see hanging in the water.
In the second week of October, we had our first snow. Down here in the valley, where we live, the accumulation only amounted to about an inch, and by afternoon it was melted away. Up on the hills, there was more, and it lasted through the day. I went out late that day, a bit anxious that this time I would find a little frozen frog’s body floating in the pond. But I found no sign of him. I assumed he had finally gone to cover for the winter. Yet a day or so later, I walked briskly toward the back of the yard, and as I past the pond, I was startled to realize my little neighbor was perched on the rim of the pond liner sitting very upright. Before I could catch myself and slow down, I saw a quick blur of brown-green, and he was gone in a splash into the dark pond.
That was over a week ago. Since then, the nights and the days have gotten chillier and wetter. I haven’t been out to the pond every day, but I haven’t seen him at all since that last splash. I’m pretty sure that he has finally sought out a hidden, sheltered place to wait out the winter. I’ll wait now, with a little anxiety, for those first warm days in early spring, hoping suddenly to find him settled down on a flat rock by the side of the pond, catching some rays and some early bugs.
© 2009 Gary A. Chorpenning