Sound of Hope

We look to nature for hope: The constancy of the seasons, the firmness of the earth, the resilience of a forest after fire.

A frog has returned this spring to the pools in the nursery. Up until two or three years ago, we had at least a few Pacific Chorus Frogs peeping, mating and laying eggs in our blue kiddy pools which were unglamorously scattered around. Dozens of tadpoles would hatch out and some would successfully metamorphose into adult frogs by fall.

Pacific Chorus Frog-BrianBodenbach

Pacific Chorus Frog (Hyla Regilla) by Brian Bodenbach

But then we had a couple of summers when the water in the kiddy pools heated up too much. The tadpoles died quietly; we humans only realized the tragedy as a disappearance.

So we put in a fancy little pool just for the frogs, much deeper to keep it cooled by the earth. At the same time, we attempted to reduce weeds throughout much of the nursery by laying down synthetic ground cloth over the woodchips in our plant zones. I thought the switch to ground cloth discouraged the frogs. Brian, who knows much more about amphibians than I, feared something more dire: some kind of disease. He had noticed a reduction in the spring mating calls in other places as well.

We can debate up the ying-yang about what causes the decline of species: is it “a natural cycle” or “human-caused”? In an area that has such a great amount of human incursion into formerly natural areas, is there still such a thing as “a natural cycle”?

It is sometimes difficult to notice that something is gone if there is nothing to call attention to it.

Humans look to nature for hope, yes. And the sounds and sights of spring are reassuring in this stressful pandemic-time. But it goes the other way, too. Nature looks to humanity for hope.

A frog calls every evening from the fancy pool. If that’s not the sound of hope, what is?

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