By Trina Machacek
I was thinking this morning of things I don’t do any more. One is fishing. I fished for many years with my other half. Now that I am a one instead of half of a two I don’t fish anymore. I could, without a doubt, still catch a fish with a string, safety pin and a worm. I miss the early morning smells of water and fish and the dog we always had along for the adventures. But fishing as just fishing? Not something I am missing all that much.
Living where I live, in the midst of a farming community there is one thing that I do miss. Frogs. Frogs? Yes. Frogs in Diamond Valley. Now there are some who will want to call in the guys with the white coats as I am pretty sure there are more people living here that have never heard the frogs in Diamond Valley than there are those who do remember the frogs. So let’s just croak a little about frogs.
If I hadn’t lived here for more years than I have fingers and toes, I would not believe there are frogs here. I mean there are more months where the land is dry than there are months of wetness. Add to that the fact that now the land is irrigated with pivot sprinklers as opposed to years gone by of ditches and corrugates and shovels and dams and I too would also expect there have never been frogs here. Especially since a quick Google informational search tells me frog eggs must be kept wet or they will dry up and die. Well if anything was to dry up and die it would be in several parts of the west. Including this high desert valley.
But! Yes a ribbit-ing “but.” There are frogs here. Waiting to be hatched to tadpoles then grow up to be frogs. Not big scare the pants off of me frogs with a deep foreboding CROOOOAK as I walked in the fields at night. No. These are little ribbit makers about the size and weight of a silver dollar. Okay about two inches across and about an ounce for those who have never seen or held a silver dollar.
When the first water of the season hit the hay fields, hidden treasures of frog eggs that had been hiding for a year underground would hatch. Tadpoles would appear in water puddles and in the irrigation ditches full of wonderful water. Then in a few days the magic would happen. The evenings would turn warmer. Warm enough that you could sit outside watching the sun disappear as darkness would creep up. The stars would seem to fall towards earth dangling just close enough so we could see them.
Then? A breeze would come up from any direction upon which an oh so faint ribbit was carried. Then another. Whoever was outside would stop talking and quietly, like when it snows and you just stand there and get surrounded by the quiet, quietly the frogs would start their singing. Ribbit, r-r-ribb-bb-bbit. It would sound like there were millions of them. I suppose there could have been. That thought never occurred to me. Probably a good thing as the thought of a million frogs tends to be along the lines of creepy.
The breeze would shift and carry away the singing. Then from another field in another direction carried on the breeze, the wonderful ribbiting would come again. You could hear them from farms a mile away when the breeze brought those ribbits to your ears. Yes, those are the frogs I miss.
Of course there is another story of frogs I want to share. I would be remiss with ribbits without telling of this occurrence. The frogs, okay toads, were really cute. I don’t think I would have been as enamored with big ole slimy frogs but these little toads were cute even for me who is afraid of moths in my house! It wasn’t unheard of to see teeny toads hopping across the lawn in the summer. Heading for a ditch I am sure. Well one day as I was out trimming around a flower bed a tiny two inch toad was hiding in the grass. Just hidden enough that I did not see him, her, or whatever. Until the weed whacker hit it and it flew, yes flew up and splatted all that toad cuteness on my face from my nose to my chin. Quite a visual huh?
No, those parts of the frogs are not missed by me. Or, apparently, by my weed whacker.
Trina lives in Eureka. Her book, “They Call Me Weener” is available on Amazon.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a signed copy.