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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