YANZUM Gardens
Since 1989 All rights reserved 1989 - 2013
Spring Flowers sculpture, recycled from bed springs
(above photo) "Spring Flowers" garden sculpture created by author from old recycled bed springs.

Frogs in the Rain

Last night we had one of those wonderful all night gentle rains that makes my garden plump out in all it's colorful finery. Another enjoyable aspect of the rain is the symphony of tree frogs that surround my house as they perform their strange and other worldly sounds. The rain seems to make them come alive even though I'd heard little from them in recent weeks or months. I suppose this is their mating time because after a rain I usually find my bogs and water filled planters alive with squirming tadpoles. For some reason they seem to love it here and I love having them. It makes me feel like I live in a healthy natural environment. I suppose if you're not accustomed to them, they could become a little disconcerting and annoying, but not to me. I welcome them with open ears. They don't sound like typical frogs. Some almost sound like a dog barking, while some sound just like sheep, and others, well, it's hard to describe, but they are quite surreal.

Early on I installed 2 ponds here because I love water plants. This is when I first discovered the tadpoles. It was like magic because they simply appeared out of nowhere. As they turned into frogs, it was even more amazing because the smallest ones were the size of a pea, hopping around the concrete pad beside the pond. I was enthralled at yet another of nature's astounding marvels. They usually grow to a 3 or 4 inch length and they tend to hang out in the most unlikely places, such as in crevices near the patio roof or inside light fixtures. Once I was pulling my front door shut when my fingers touched something squishy. I found a light colored 3 inch tree frog in the hollow space behind the door handle. I encouraged him to find a new sleeping lounge. Twice I've found one on my shower wall, but I have no idea how they got inside the house.

My first personal experience with tree frogs was in Atlanta when a friend took me to an old dilapidated house he owned in the country. He wanted to give me the 6 solid oak columns that once stood on the front porch. Out back was a large horse trough filled with water and tadpoles. I found a jar and scooped a bunch of them up, took them home and added them to one of my ponds. I didn't really know they were tree frogs until they grew and started singing from the trees. I'm not sure all my neighbors were thrilled with their loud sound, much louder than my current residents. It didn't matter because by the next year I could hear them on another street. For some unknown reason they decided to move on.

My next experience with frogs came one Sunday afternoon when a group of us drove up to Tallulah Falls and Gorge north of Atlanta. I recently read that Tallulah Gorge was north Georgia's first tourist attraction, really taking off when the train arrived in 1882. In 1970 Karl Wallenda, of the famous circus tight rope walking family, walked across on a high wire stretched across the gorge. Anyway, my friends and I hiked down to the bottom to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The base was solid rock in many places, as is much of the area surrounding Atlanta. On what used to be the river bottom before the power company started controlling the flow to turn it into electricity, were some large circular “ponds” cut into the rock. I don't know if the ponds are natural or man made but you can see them in a photo on the Tallulah Gorge website. Inside the ponds were lots of big fat tadpoles. I found a discarded cup and asked the tadpoles if anyone wanted to move to the city. I had several volunteers. I brought them home, added them to one of my ponds where they promptly ate all of the baby goldfish. I suppose if the fish had been larger, they would have dined on the tadpoles. It is a dog eat dog world after all. Those tadpoles turned out to be bull frogs with a rich deep bass sound. What a treat. Ribbitt. By the way, I now know I should not have taken the tadpoles, because , like wildflowers, if too many people do this, they will vanish from the wild and none of us wants that. Please do not remove any living thing from the wild.

I've read that frogs are like the proverbial canary in a coal mine. In case you're not familiar with the concept, coal miners used to take caged canaries down into the coal mines with them for protection. The canaries are very vulnerable to dangerous gases in the air, so if the canary suddenly died, the miner knew he'd better get out of there as fast as possible or he'd be next. Likewise, frogs are super sensitive to the many toxins we carelessly spread about our earth in the form of fertilizers, insecticides and other pollutants. Frogs have been around since the days of the dinosaurs, but now they are vanishing in large numbers all around the world. Some of the reasons are destruction by bulldozer of their fragile habitats, loss of food sources, pollution, climate change and a fungal disease called chytrid. Like the miner with a dead canary, we should probably get out of here fast, but we can't. It seems to me if we don't change our destructive ways and change them now, we might eventually follow the unfortunate path of the vanishing frogs.


You can read more about the vanishing frogs here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com
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