Three years ago, I dug up my side yard and put in a small pond and shallow creek, with a waterfall. I wanted frogs to live there and have tadpoles, so I did not add fish. We called it the Frog Mitigation Area.
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With Salmon Woman, my mate, we planted the area extensively the first year with lemon thyme and spots of Irish and Scottish mosses.
Early the next Spring, dozens of half-inch-long Western Chorus Frogs came to the fishless pond, bred and laid eggs. Over 100 native chorus frog tadpoles hatched and morphed into frogs by the middle of July.
After morphing from tadpoles to frogs, the frogs left the pond and took to land. A few remained nearby, often in the moss. Most spread out into the adjacent vegetable garden, among the strawberries, and ornamental flowers, to hunt bugs.
I wanted to plant vegetation near the ponds that would provide low cover for the dime-sized frogs. But in the second year, the thyme up and died for no good reason.
The next year, We had another bumper wave of tadpoles, perhaps 1000 hatched, and well over 100 survived into froghood. Oddly, most of the frogs did not morph until late July and early August, a full month later than the year before.
We replaced the dead thyme with more Irish and Scottish moss. Both mosses were already spreading nearby. We also moved the waterfall back, dug another pond, and widened the 25 foot long stream.
The winter of 2016 set records for Portland Oregon, for several measurements of shittiness. A year’s worth of rain in 6 months. Months when it rained every day. Hard. Snowstorm after snowstorm.
An unauthorized creek abruptly appeared, flowing through my backyard.
The moss gave it up, too. I hurriedly opened a field plant hospital and transplanted any moss with a pulse, but 90% of it rejoined the carbon cycle.
However, the chorus frogs loved the massive rains. They showed up again in late February, croaked louder than a garage rock band, and mated their way into parenting perhaps 1400 tadpoles.
Over 1200 tadpoles hatched in the lower pond, and over 200 hatched in the new upper pond.
The chorus frogs’ return was so widespread that they even successfully mated in my other two ponds (the predators’ ponds) well away from the Frog Mitigation area. Hungry gold fish and bullfrogs had eaten all the chorus frogs in those ponds years ago, but the frogs rallied and came back this spring. I moved their egg sacs to the newer, upper, fish-free pond in the Frog Mitigation Area.
The chorus frogs in my yard have apparently drastically adapted to the local climate. They mated and fertilized eggs even when air temperatures fell below freezing, although the water did not freeze.
I perused the ponds every morning and saw fresh egg sacs even after evenings when the air temperature plummeted below 32 F. Chorus frog scientific literature claimed that frog won’t breed in temperatures below 54 degrees. The studies do acknowledge that local populations dramatically alter their behavior to adjust to local conditions.
Adding a new pond and expanding the creek almost doubled the aquatic habitat in the Frog Mitigation Area, and the frogs took advantage.
The frogs committed amplexus ( the scientific term for frogs mating) all night long in the new Upper Pond. The male frog clasps the female from behind, and sprays sperm on her eggs as she emits a jelly-like egg sac. she attaches the sac to underwater plants. Afterwards they share a smoke, and go their separate ways.
The hundreds of additional tadpoles that hatched in the new pond are a pure bonus. However the frogs still mated in the the older pond more frequently. The new pond yielded about 20 tadpole per square foot of water surface, while the older pond produced about 40.
The last week of June, the tadpoles in the upper pond abruptly began morphing. I netted a tadpole sampling from both ponds; about 10 of 15 in the upper pond already had hind legs, while only 2 of 15 in the older lower pond had legs.
Dozens of tadpoles morphed rapidly into frogs over the 4th of July weekend in the new upper pond. In the old pond, not so much.
I enjoyed seeing the frogs colonize the newer pond. However I did not also witness morphing activity in the lower pond, where there were six times as many tadpoles at one point, and the eggs were originally fertilized at the same time in both ponds. The lower pond tadpoles morphed late last year also.
I sampled again on 7/25. There were many more frogs in the lower pond than usual; I caught 30 in the netted sample, the usual number would be less than 5. Only one had legs. I found only 3 frogs in the newer pond. All the rest may have already morphed into frogs.
Why did some this year’s upper pond tadpoles morph much more quickly? Why are the lower pond’s tadpoles lollygagging around instead of morphing, when they hatched 13 weeks ago? Froggie literature says tadpoles can turn into frogs in just 4 weeks.
I was standing in my front yard, still wondering what to replant around the frog ponds, when a fellow in a jumpsuit walked up to me.
“Did you need some maintenance on your Energy Vortex?” he asked, and handed me a leaflet:
LAWN AND SOUL MAINTENANCE
Astral Plane realigned $20
Yard dethatched $25
Energy Vortex tuned and balanced $20
Tree trimmed����� $20
SPECIAL DEAL ANY THREE CHOICES
ONLY $100 TOTAL. PLUS THIS
COUPON $5 OFF
I stared at the leaflet.
“Are you for real?” I finally asked.
“I’m on the outside looking in,” he said, and smiled,”Call me Tim.”
“I need the Energy Vortex tune-up,” I conceded. “I never begrudged the tadpoles anything. I got up before dawn every morning to saute kale in olive oil and wine so the tadpoles could have a hot breakfast.”
“Their mom and dad hopped away before they even hatched,” I continued, “I’m the only parent these tadpoles have ever known. All I ask is a big breakout in July with dozens of little frogs morphing and hopping around. The upper pond is active, but the tadpoles in the lower ponds are stalling.”
Tim looked around at the dead plants.
“Some Energy Vortexes are in the roadside attractions everyone’s seen; the “mystery houses” where people seem to get smaller as they walk through a room,” he began.
“Your Energy Vortex is a magical location where the veneer between several realities is wearing a little thin. It’s not quite a Sedona but something’s going on here. In my opinion your Energy Vortex is cross wired and has reversed polarity. The unharnessed energy leaking from other realities is burning up your plants. You can’t plant anything yet. First you need to bury this area with quartz crystals aligned to magnetic North,” he said.
He stared at the pond. “OH JESUS!” he exclaimed, pointing.
“Haha,” I said,”We call those Jesus bugs, because they can walk on water.”
“Jesus Bugs that walk on water?” Tim shouted,”They’re coming through from the reality next door! I’m outta here!!”
And he fled.
So I ordered delivery of two cubic yards of quartz crystals. It wasn’t cheap. And when the delivery truck dumped it, I lost my cool.
“Dang it I ordered quartz crystals and these are river cobbles!”
“Hey Redwoodman,” the truck driver responded,”These are well rounded commonly polished pebbles of chert and quartzite generally from lacustrine (lake) deposits, and that’s as close as you’re going to get!”
So I spread the cobbles, covering areas abandoned by ungrateful plants.
As I shoveled the rocks, and paused to hose off the dust, I noticed the wetted rocks offered an occasional translucent sparkle among the field of grey. My goodness, there might be some quartz in there!
I still did not know how to arrange my quartz to straighten out the Vortex, so I set them down counterclockwise in a circle around the pear tree. When I ran out of quartz, I used pretty rocks.
I wondered if there would be a sign if I aligned the quartz correctly. Then I heard an odd bird’s call, a demanding and persistent “scree, scree.” I looked up into the tree across the street from the FMA. The tree looked back.
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Community Spotlight!! <blush> Thanks everyone for reading.