The Pottery Fragment Frog

He’s back! Or I thought he was back – and he could be a she – but a distinctive heart-shaped mark on the back of its head identifies the familiar “pottery fragment frog.”

Recently I bumped one of the terracotta pots in the courtyard. Pathetic pots – containing only volunteers. Doug fir seedlings, a forget-me-not, and a piece of a plate occupy one pot, and every year for the last three a frog has spent its summer days behind the little chunk of pottery.

It is beautiful pottery, part of a plate from Spain, but more attractive must be access to flying food and a safe place from the wind. And familiarity. Maybe this first sighting, when I bumped the pot, came after a winter spent in nearby rocks.

Frogs are a sweet presence here with their spring singing, their freeze-in-place-at-the-sight-of-you attitude, and their beauty – electric-green or quiet-brown, and always the distinctive eye stripe of the Pacific tree frog. They range in size and color from many teeny, half-inch bright green ones to the two-inch variegated frog I found in a slatted wooden box full of garden clutter.

Plastic attracts them. A produce bag stuffed in an empty square pot became an overnight bivouac for a luscious green frog. A board must always cover the top of the watering can or frogs seek the water left in the can. Before rinsing a birdbath with water from the hose, I look – in mid-summer frogs also enjoy the water baths.

All one August a frog croak echoed from a gutter above the living room window, and we relocated to the garden the frog suctioned to an upstairs window on a stormy autumn night. Once I found a frog in the house, very brown and dry looking, under an old wooden box full of holiday dishes rarely moved – an immigrant through our lax screen door?

It’s tempting to associate the faded-looking khaki coloring with maturity. One of the wee scholars told me authoritatively that a brown frog is dry – but other experts say tree frogs can be either brown or green or a combination. And their color can change – perhaps with light intensity.

There are fewer slugs here than in early years, and I like to thank the frogs. I read that big frogs eat big slugs and small eat small. Each bed seems to have a resident frog or two, and hopefully they dine on the underage slugs, the ones not imbibing at my beer bar. This would win hero status for frogs in the garden.

In spite of beginning this with the spring appearance – now the frog is gone again. Another puzzlement, but I can’t help thinking, given the rich sounds of frog singing every night from nearby ponds (and another wonderment is how far a frog can travel), that froggy – he or she – went acourtin’. Uhhuh!

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