Signs of Spring
When I think of spring, I imagine two favorite signs now connected by a thoughtful gift from an East coast colleague that shows up with the first early spring flowers.
We had worked together a few years back. When we were on breaks or sharing a meal, we enjoyed comparing notes about our very different gardens.
His was an east coast, meticulous garden inspired by formality and precision. He had clipped topiary Boxwoods, manicured Weeping Willows and dramatic Drooping Cherry trees. I used to tell him his garden sounded just a tad sad based on his description, did he have anything with more of a happy sounding name planted anywhere?
By comparison, my Missouri limestone hillside garden was a riot of easy to grow native redbuds, dogwoods and compact fruit trees sprinkled with anything that bloomed throughout the growing season, even weeds. No grass to mow. Ponds, lots of birdhouses, bird baths, benches, butterflies and bees, “quite a busy place” he used to say. And frogs. Lots of frogs, all shapes and sizes but my favorites were the spring frogs.
Frogs, he would say, as if the concept was brand new to him. I gathered nothing went into his garden without advance permission.
Little frogs called spring peepers, I would add. Tiny grey frogs with a big presence, they make a resounding noise on the first warm spring-like day, everyone knows just when that is, at times it is in the middle of winter. The sun will come out, the day will warm up and so will the frogs. One won’t be able to hear one’s thoughts for the racket it’s quite special.
We would go on with our official business and when talk turned back to gardens, the conversation would come back around to the little frogs, which apparently they don’t have on the East coast. Or if the do, they must sing much more quietly in his garden.
So what do these little frogs do, he once asked.
Well, I said, giving it due consideration. They swim in the water in my empty flower pots. They hang out in my rain barrel. They sit under plants. They suction cup themselves to my windows and drive my cats crazy.
I mean, do frogs have jobs, he asked.
Why yes, I said. They eat bugs.
Yes, they peep, usually in spring, when daffodils much larger than they are bloom.
(I didn't say it was scintillating conversation, now, did I.)
Another time I showed him a picture of one of my frogs. I have a couple living in a rain barrel. I wanted him to see what they looked like just in case he found any on his property. He nodded once he took in their size and coloring.
So when I opened the box of miniature daffodils with his return address, I knew exactly why he sent them. They were for the spring peepers, teeny tiny daffodils for the small frogs he knew I had in my garden.