Good Friend for a Dry Season

No rainfall since May 6th translates to bone-dry gardens, a sketchy water level in our well, and a daily round of discernment regarding who and what will receive a portion of the precious remaining water to share.

One of my new friends this summer is a pensive Gray Tree Frog who prefers silence and solitude. Though the males of the species often live solitary lives, my friend seems to be a particularly brooding contemplative.

He appeared relieved the morning we met, however, when I gently filled a flower pot’s rim with water. By the time I set down the hose and grabbed the camera, he’d already settled in for a soak.

I suspected my presence–and with a camera–may have challenged his comfort level, so I allowed him privacy to enjoy his bath, but returned later to make sure my guest was content, and found that he had changed locations and colors.

I learned his color changes are possible due to chromatophores, star-shaped pigment cells in his skin; different chromatophores contain different granules of color. A change in his coloring can be triggered by a number of different variables: excitement, humidity, light, temperature or surroundings. The morning we met, he first matched the table beneath the plant, and when we parted, I think he hoped to be camouflaged from his over-zealous hostess, so I retreated, assuring him that I was at his beck and croak.

He comes to the deck at night, nocturnal fellow that he is, and when we meet in early morning, he’s almost ready to sleep. I would rather he wouldn’t burrow into the soil surrounding my potted houseplants, but it is damp and cool, and what he favors.

I wonder if he changes color at night, if he is most fully himself when no one is looking. Maybe at midnight a rainbow shimmers across his back…

At dawn, I sit beside him as he broods. I think about the ways I change colors and camouflage myself in various crowds. And how I love water, and solitude, and peaceful companionship.

I am learning we are not so different, he and I. We sit together and dream of water for a bone-dry world, and of the star-stuff mysteries we are.


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10 thoughts on “Good Friend for a Dry Season

  1. That is just a brutal length of time to be without rain Catherine!!! I am so sorry you and Mr. Brooder are having to endure this drought. I went a whole summer once when I lived in the south without rain and after a while it started to get to you mentally not to ever feel the relief and release that rain brings. I’m certain Mr. Brooder is grateful for the water you are providing. You’ll be good buds by the end of summer. I will pray for rain for you…Wishing you rainy dreams……VK


    1. Thank you, VK; it is changing patterns in our day; that’s for sure, and we worry about the well, but also all the life around us and, of course, those who make their living farming the land…but it is what it is, and we’ve all contributed to this. Climate change is real. We have to adapt and adjust. I wish “recreational vehicles” and all CO2 emissions would be much more stringently regulated. Fat chance, the way our current Congress is going after the environment.


  2. I loved this post, the pictures and the text. I can well imagine what it is like with a drought like that because such things happen in our country fairly often. And it affects the mood of the place and people as well. It is hard to live with. But one must remember that that is the way of climate… there are good times and bad, when it comes to rain. How wonderful that you have such a pleasant visitor and friend, the gray frog. Perhaps he has come to bring you consolation.


    1. Thank you, Shimon. Yes, he does offer consolation, indeed. The drought has brought adjustments and adaptations; we’re hoping to prevent more loss than manageable. Ironically, the experience “washes” over us, and we’re treading well, but weakening at this point.


  3. Catherine, I was so hoping to hear that your drought had ended. We are dry here but have had a few days of rain at least.

    I love toads; we caught them as kids, kept them for a day or two and then let them go back to the wild. I am delighted every time I see one here and try to keep some moist ground for them. There is a wonderful story by Celia Thaxter in her book “An Island Garden” where she was brought a box of toads from the mainland; when she watered the box, they all jumped up to life, hopped out of the box and populated her garden.

    What a wonderful post this. full of sadness, hope, and many insights. You are such a fine storyteller and your reflections at the end always make me think in new ways. And that first toad photo is priceless 🙂


    1. Thank you for visiting and sharing your wonderful stories and resources, Lynn. It’s been the hardest gardening year of my growing-longer life, that’s for sure. Many lessons, and I’m grateful, but I’m also tired of watching dear plants die. A recent invasion of the entirely-new-to-me genista caterpillars (not normally in our region) made me want to run screaming into the setting sun, but we’re curious, too, to see what succumbs and what manages to survive. A shift in climate, that’s for sure.


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