Um, toads? Don’t you know about the “new normal”?

I’ll admit that I am more than a little weary of the new talking points of this time period, including the one I used in the title of this post. New normal, social distancing, and whatever adjective ad execs and politicians want to use in front of the word “times” – challenging times, unprecedented times, difficult times, extraordinary times, uncertain, etc. I am mildly annoyed that I have to sit through commercials that now talk about COVID and social distancing. Good lord, enough already.

At my house, however, nature knows no social distancing rules. The toads have invaded my pond and they are NOT 6-feet apart.

I know my pond has been the subject of this blog before, but for those who may not be familiar with the backstory, let me digress for a moment.

When I was a child, my parents built a house on the family farm. Next to our house was a stream which led to a river. I am not exaggerating when I say that I spent HOURS next to that stream, watching the creatures that lived in its watery depths. I observed them, noting weird species that I had no idea existed, like caddisfly larvae, which would create their own little housing case that they lived in until they matured. It was a weird, secretive world where I could just watch and learn.

Several years ago, I became weary of the ultra-tame deer around here eating the produce in my raised garden beds, so I ripped them out and decided to put a pond there. Now, a sane person would have gotten ahold of a mini excavator or something to do the digging. I was fresh from a breakup and a little angsty, so I decided to dig it myself. By hand. Initially, I thought my children would find it fun to help with the project, but they tired of it after about an hour or so. I was on my own after that. So I dug. And dug. And dug. And dug. Pretty soon I had a pond that was about 10′ long, 6′ wide and 3′ deep. I had no idea what I was doing, really. I just knew I wanted a big pond that was large enough to house frogs, toads, and possibly fish.

Since then, I’ve been utterly amazed at the creatures which inhabit the pond each year. I’ve learned that early on, small chorus frogs will be the first to discover the pond. (Yes, some frogs try to winter in the pond, but they always perish.). There will be some wonderful singing that lasts for a couple weeks, followed by some frog eggs. Then the toads will discover it and fill the air with their shrill singing, and then their eggs will appear. Soon the pond is full of tadpoles, and I often have to shut off my pond pump for fear of the little guys clogging it up and burning it out. (Yes, that actually happened. Gross.)

This season has been an unusual one because everything has happened so late. (Not a fan of 2020 so far – just sayin’.). The frogs visited, sang, and then seemed to go away without laying any eggs. However, when I rinsed out the pump filter a few days ago, I did notice a tiny, almost microsopic tadpole. Just where these frogs laid their eggs is a mystery, as they usually lay them in the shallow shelf of the pond, but not this year, evidently.

A few nights ago, I started hearing the toads sing. I found out recently that the toads are of the American toad species. First there was one, then two, then all of a sudden I have a freaking party going on in my back yard. The sound they make is deafening at times, and sometimes I pray that my neighbors don’t secretly hate me because of the extra racket I create in this neighborhood.

Last night was one of those nights that you wish you could bottle up and keep forever. No wind. Mild temps. And in my yard – the singing of the toads. Click on the link to hear the toads singing in full force.

All of a sudden, I have toads everywhere. Yesterday I saw two of them getting “friendly.” Today? Three mating couples at the same time, with one of them leaving egg strings as they swam around.

Yup – I am definitely going to have to shut off the pump soon. Consider this post an official birth announcement, I guess.

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