Promises of Better Days to Come

cloudsDays like today are good for the soul. Last Saturday was bitter cold and we got about 6 inches of snow. This Saturday it was sunny and I wouldn’t be surprised if it hit 70°F today!

I needed it. It’s been a rough winter. Not that the weather was really bad. We’ve actually had a fairly mild winter overall (at least in this part of the country). Still the cold dreary days had more of an effect on me this year. I know so many people who have lost loved ones (people and pets) this winter. Myself included.

12-27_MyHouse_2_Vito

My Vito

I lost my beloved Vito, my cockatiel that I had for 16 years, a week before Christmas. It devastated me. I’m still having trouble adjusting to the absence of his presence. I hadn’t had the desire to do much of anything for almost 2 months since he passed away.

But today was good. Today was warm. A hint and a promise of warm days to come. I went outside and pruned the rose-of-Sharon and the lilac bush and sat by Vito’s grave for a while. It felt good to sit in the sunshine, soaking in all of that warmth. The birds were singing all around me and occasionally, I’d hear their wings flutter near me as they flew to the feeders nearby. The birds will be building nests soon and as soon as the first warm rains come, the peepers will start singing. Eventually, I’ll be ready to get another cockatiel. But today I’ll soak in that sunshine and let it seep into my soul.

This Harbinger of Spring… May Not Be What You Think!

I was laying in bed a few weeks ago, trying to fall asleep as the wind drove the rain against the side of my house, when I suddenly heard something. A sound I had been waiting for weeks to hear. I sat up in bed listening, not sure that I actually heard it, when suddenly, I heard it again. The clear, high-pitched “PEEP!” coming from a male treefrog known as the Spring Peeper singing by my pond just outside my window. Despite the cold front that was moving in, I knew that winter had finally lost its grip. How did I know this? Because these little frogs are the harbingers of Spring!

Spring Peepers start singing during the first warm rains of the season.

Spring Peepers start singing during the first warm rains of the season.

Here in Missouri, and in much of the northern part of their range, Spring Peepers are the first frogs to emerge from hibernation, and they start singing during the first warm rains of the season. On warm nights (I’m not a fan of being cold), I like to go out and look for them! I’m sure my neighbors have wondered, on more than one occasion, what the heck I was doing as I hovered by my pond armed with my camera and a headlamp strapped to my forehead! These little guys are hard to spot though and I usually have to stand really still until one of them starts singing again and betrays his location. Even then, I’ve spent many nights hearing them but not being able to find them.

I found this little guy hiding under one of my pond plants.

I found this little guy hiding under one of my pond plants.

Can you see the "X" on his back?

Can you see the “X” on his back?

Just to give you a little perspective as to how big they are.

Just to give you a little perspective as to how big they are.

Spring Peepers prefer shallow pools of water (or in my case, my 4×6-foot prefabricated pond) surrounded by lots of low-growing vegetation so they can hide from any predators. They are small frogs, only 3/4 – 1 1/4 inches, which may surprise you given the loud volume of their calls. As the nights get warmer, their calls get louder, to the point where they can often be deafening. They are different shades of brown, gray or olive and are identified by the dark cross on their back resembling an “X”. This coloring allows them to blend in easily with the dead plant debris leftover from the previous season, making them a challenge to find.

Whether I see them or not, I enjoy listening to these little amphibians. To me, they’re announcing that winter is finally over and warmer days are on the way!

What signs of Spring do you look for each year?