Spring and rain-gauge frogs persist

The rain gauge that usually hangs on the outer rail of the deck had been taken down for the winter so it wouldn't fill with water and freeze. Now with temperatures rising, the bright orange plastic vial was hanging, waiting to catch the spring rain. It didn't take long for those drops to fall, and it took even less time for the gauge to find an occupant. It was as if winter had not kept him away, as if there were no better place for a tree frog to be than right here on this porch hanging out in this narrow puddle of water.

This happens every year. The first summer I started visiting this porch we nicknamed the frog "Boomer," short for "Boomerang." We named him that because he went away, but he always came back.

Boomer had special markings on his head, and he was quite a big tree frog. So big it was hard to imagine how he got himself into the rain gauge. He must have backed into it, because there was no way he could have turned himself around if he'd gone in head first. I loved looking into the gauge and seeing him stuffed in there, looking back at me. Boomer was such a source of joy he became a member of the family. We regularly checked on his whereabouts and imagined his froggy escapades when he was absent. I longed for a little video camera that could ride with him on his two- and three-day jaunts.

This new little tenant was not Boomer. He was smaller, like a teenager, like a Boomer Jr. Isn't it remarkable that within hours of hanging the rain gauge, an animal has already claimed it as home?

I think this is what I love best about spring: the predictability of it. It's a relief to know there are certain things you can count on, that no matter what happens to you personally, on a much bigger scale, there is a cycle of life turning all around you: Spring is going to come.

Even if you are having a hard day, the dogwoods don't care. They are still going to paint the woods with their brilliant strokes of white. The morel mushrooms are still going to poke up their gnarly heads whether you find them or not. The bluebirds have come back to the little house on the pole. Where once we saw just branches and twigs, a new yellow-green splash has drenched the hillside. And the trill of a tree frog close by tells us how fortunate we are, reminds us to dwell on the richness of life, and to marvel at the persistence of spring.

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